Words of Hope: No Dis-Aster

The night Dad died, the sky was full of color, the sun was blood red with Hesperus, the evening star was visible. I took a picture because the colors were vivid, not realizing this would be the day Dad went. As I took the photo, there was both the sense of foreboding and wonder and awe. I think of the journey of life and death similarly. There was profound beauty in the time spent with Dad in his last few days. I think if he could have written out exactly how he would have liked to die, this would be it. All of his immediate family were nearby every minute of the day. No one was away at college or work. We had plenty of time. His grandkids were not in school or rushing to different events. We had time to hold his hand and sing to him, pray and quote scripture which we did hour after hour. I am often very busy with my mind rushing to new projects and ideas or problems. This time with Dad was so pregnant with meaning. I didn’t feel any anxiety or sense of wandering. I felt fully grounded, present, and wonderfully alive. The time was full of sorrow; we cried and cried. One of my family members stood on the porch and sobbed so loudly; it could be felt and heard throughout the house. But the time was one of the most remarkable of my life. 

I have been listening to Madeleine L’Engle’s book “A Stone for A Pillow.” She talks about the etymology of the word disaster. It means to be disconnected from the stars. Though my Dad’s death was and still is extremely painful, it doesn’t feel like a disaster because God was and is so present in the experience. Dad and I used to sing this song when I was little, “In the stars His handiwork I see, on the wind, He speaks with majesty, Though He ruleth over land and sea, What is that to me? … Till by faith I met Him face to face, and I felt the wonder of His grace, Then I knew that He was more than just a God who didn’t care, that lived way out there, and now He walks beside me day by day, ever watching o’er me last I stray, helping me to find the narrow way. He’s everything to me.” There was no disaster in Dad’s death, but I could see God’s handiwork throughout.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day, they pour forth speech; night after night, they display knowledge.” – Psalm 19:1-2

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