There are a number of reasons I’m writing this in July. One is because some recent debate has suggested that Jesus was born in July. There are for some unknown (though perhaps divinely inspired?) sales in America titled “Christmas in July”. And of course, when I first traveled to Belgium, my luggage took a different voyage, so that it was not until I returned in July that I was able to distribute Christmas gifts.
Miracles have no calendar, and there are many who would say that life, being a miracle in itself, happens everyday. There are certainly things that happen everyday that someone will call a miracle, even if it’s just finding their car keys.
C.S.Lewis said “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see”.
I think C.S.Lewis has it right. We tend not to notice the “everyday” miracles like the fact that life exists at all, or that we have the capability of understanding more than our individual needs. Our definition of special doesn’t include existence, but if we stand back for a moment to consider, it is quite amazing that everything, and by everything I mean everything, worked out so that life could exist through humanity surviving as long as it has to our parents meeting each other so that we as individuals could lose our car keys, and consider finding them a “miracle”. We don’t see the forest for the rock we stumble on.
So when I started to write this I was going to talk about waking up Christmas morning 2010 in the bedroom that had been my wife’s since she was a child and the first sight being a Russian Madonna icon, and my awareness of God’s presence. As things have worked out, other events have clouded my mind, or focused it. Two people I knew died this weekend, two very different people, and through their passing I am again reminded of God’s presence, and how at some level we are all the same.
Thomas Smith was my uncle. My father had been a late baby, his sisters much older than him, so Thomas was much older than my father. I didn’t realize this until later in life, you rarely consider the age of your relatives. I saw Thomas angry one time in my entire life. My parents’ other child was fighting with me and just wouldn’t stop, and Thomas could not stand for fighting family members. I can only speak for what I saw, but Thomas appeared to be the gentlest human being I have ever known. He had been a pilot, and flew from Dallas TX to Rio De Janero during the last years of his career. A joke about Thomas was that he recorded everything, there was always a camera in front of his face. When his parents died his siblings fought over the inheritance so much that he walked away and said he didn’t want anything, then when he got home he and my aunt planned out their wills, with the intention of being as equal as humanly possible with their children. A dozen or so years ago at my Grandfather’s funeral, I noticed the resemblance between Thomas and his oldest son, and realized that in his youth, Thomas must have been a very attractive man. My aunt is not an easy person to live with, and the two of them faced a couple of tragedies in their lives, yet he was always a kind and loving husband, and I cannot recall an ill word ever coming from him about anyone. He had been ill the last few years, and was on his way with his youngest son to vacation, when he died, sleeping in the car.
Annette (I won’t give more of a name, but she has commented on previous blog posts) was a few years younger than I. We had known each other in High School, and caught up on Face Book. She didn’t live far away and we had many of the same interests, so I felt that one day we would run into each other without a great deal of planning. That day will not arrive. Annette was forty nine years old when she passed away. A week or so ago she had commented on Face Book “my leg is broken, going to the doc to see if he can fix it”. Then this morning her husband posted that she had died. That is all I know. Annette was a wonderful person, she was very involved with dogs and helped create the first “No-Kill” shelter in the state where she lived. She was a thoughtful Christian, and from what I could tell from our brief conversations looked at her relationship with God much as I look at mine.
We do not know why we are here, other than to love one another. We do not know how much time we will have here, other than right now.
The conclusion is obvious. Love each other now.