Today, Sunday June 7th, was supposed to be a special day, a bright day of celebration. But the light went out of it before the sun even came up. Although special became tragic, at day’s end it turned out to be special after all, at least to did for me. Instead of giving a present today, I received a present, one that will last a lifetime and beyond. Certainly happy birthday plans turned into a day of vigilance and prayer. And yet, in the midst of an unfolding tragedy I experienced something unusual, something I’ve never experienced before, possibly a miracle?
Now, as a male I understand that I can never experience the joy of giving birth. I’ll miss the experience of actual labor, actual pain, very real terror, and the total elation of bringing a new life into the world. Truth be told, I’m not exactly all busted up about that. Those privileges belong to women alone. They are a woman’s cross to bear, her connection to God Almighty and His creation. These are facts of life pure and simple; facts that we’ve all grow up with. However, today I discovered a new fact. Apparently there is a similar birthing process associated with the end of life. The pain can be as great, perhaps even greater. The difference being that at this birth the pain is is felt by all, by everyone connected by varying degree to the life ebbing toward an uncertain future, a life at the crossroads that separates Heaven and Earth.
That pain brings grief so profound that you feel as if your heart is being ripped from your chest. That grief brings frustration so intense that words are meaningless, and you are reduced to primal screams or wailing to express yourself. That frustration brings an uncontrolable anger that threatens to consume you as it turns your heart to stone. That anger, mercifully, is soothed by faith through prayer, your prayers and those of others. And that mercy begets hope which softens your hard heart, and allows you to continue to continue. From one uncertain week to the next, one uncertain day to the next, one uncertain hour to the next, you continue to continue.
And so, here I am staring up at the window in this small room. The sun is beginning to rise. I notice that there are three vertical blinds missing on the end of the row. All of the other blinds are turned toward the wall, directing the sunlight away from the bedside. I don’t know what made me focus on such a trivial anomaly. Perhaps a need to be useful, to do something besides sit there and wonder what was to happen next. At first I feel compelled to find a way to cover the open space made by the missing blinds. I even stand up from my seat on the edge of the bed across the aisle. But before I take a step my eyes are drawn again to the missing blinds. I notice the light creeping across the floor, slowly making its way toward the bedside.
I sit back down and watch the trail of light inch closer and closer. My eyes alternate between the missing window blinds and the steady march of the sunbeam. Each time I look up at the window my mind focuses on the missing blinds, 1-2-3. The light is at the edge of the pillow now and she turns her head to meet it. Sightless and speechless it must be the warmth that attracts her attention I rationalize. I look back to the window, again at the blinds, 1-2-3, curious? The sun is up now, and her face is awash in the ray of sunshine that I’ve been tracking for twenty some minutes. There is an aura of intense concentration in the air, in direct conflict with the blank expression on her face. As I wonder about that I suddenly realize the significance of the three missing blinds, perfectly placed in the exact spot where the mornings first light would bathe her in healing sunshine, 1-2-3, three missing blinds, Father-Son-Holy Ghost. It was a prayer answered before it had even materialized in my mind. I believe that I was gently told in those moments to stand down, to be still, that this child whom I love dearly was in His hands now, and that whatever was to be would be right and good for her.
Garth Brooks, the country singer songwriter wrote that “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” I’ve wondered about that line many times in my life. It’s a good answer to hard “tell me why” questions, but truly I don’t believe it. I’ve also read that all prayers are answered, every one of them. And that it is our inclination to hear only what we want to hear that prevents us from understanding that. The older I get the more I’m convinced that there is power in prayer. And I don’t think that belief in God or membership in a religion is a prerequisite to being heard. If there is a God and I truly believe that there is, then God exists for all. And sooner or later everyone turns to Him consciously or unconsciously in a moment of quiet desperation hoping to be heard.
Today was a special day for me. Today my heart was opened to the true meaning of scripture, specifically 1st Corinthians 13:13, “But now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” Today I saw three missing blinds,
1-2-3. To my mind, they represented the Father-Son-Holy Spirit. They embodied scripture, faith-hope-love.
Today I witnessed the birth of an angel. No matter which path is chosen for her at the crossroads where she waits, she will be forever changed. Touched by the hand of God she is special beyond imagination and we are blessed to be near her.