Last month, our family experienced a great tragedy. I trust that, in the aftermath, we will know healing, and peace. But for now it feels like the tragedy is still happening. The aftermath isn’t here yet. Sometimes it feels like it will never come.
The breeze was cool as we walked toward church this morning. And dry. All the colors were sharp and clear: a black garden hose cutting across green grass, purple and pink petunias snuggling against the smooth brown trunk of a crape myrtle, a glittery white car parked beside us in the lot. Texas humidity can make the air so thick, things look dull or blurry. Not today. Today everything was shining clear.
Doesn’t it surprise us, when we’re struggling to get through a painful time, that, around us, life goes on? The dog with the irritating bark still wakes us each morning just after dawn. The neighbors down the street still hold hands when they walk in the evening. As we crossed the courtyard outside church today, parents who seemed unable to contain their love scooped up their children, held them squealing over their heads, then drew them down into hugs and kisses. A throng of fast walkers parted to spill around the older man with his cane who lifted his gaze from the sidewalk to respond to their hellos and good mornings. Inside, people greeted each other with hugs and smiles before they walked to their usual Sunday seats.
And there I was, in the midst of them, thinking, “I used to do that. I used to feel like that.” I wondered if the man who held the door for me had read my sorrow. Surely not. I smiled at him, after all, so what clue would he have that my heart is broken? Did the lady beside me notice the tears trickling from beneath my glasses during the chorus of the final hymn, when the soaring notes and comforting words cut my thin-skinned heart with their beauty? Why would she? She was surely celebrating her own joys, or mourning her own tragedies.
Who knows how many mourners were in the pews today? How many worshipers struggled as hard as I to get up, get dressed, go to church? How many cars in the lot were driven there by people every bit as lost as I am?
Everyone has a story.
As I stood to leave the pew, the lady beside me stood also. We walked out of church in silence, but I thought I could feel her looking at me. Yes. When I turned to her, her eyes were deep with understanding. She knew it too: everyone has a story. And in a brief look, she told me she cared about mine.
Life goes on around us. And in us. It’s still life, even when it’s not light and cheerful. And sooner or later, everyone needs care.
So we all can be caregivers. The requirements are easy enough: we must only be human, be willing to look outside ourselves to the other humans around us, and recognize the need for comfort because we have experienced that need ourselves.
Thanks to all you caregivers out there. I may not know your names, but I recognize you. Thank you.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV).
Lord, thank You for Your infinite love and care. We trust You will hold us close, shepherd us through our troubles, and lead us home.