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Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

One in a Million

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My husband’s brother Michael died this week. It wasn’t really unexpected – he’d been treated for end-stage renal disease for more than 44 years. It’s just that, well, we never really expect death. It is a rare, unnatural, uncommon occurrence for death to pass so near, so close to us we can touch it – at least, it seems to be, when it’s happening to us. In truth, of course, it’s not. A million people died this week, the same as every week, and my brother-in-law was one of them. Just one in a million.

What did seem to be rare and uncommon to me was the extraordinary graciousness that welcomed and embraced everyone as the family gathered to say good-bye. I can’t say it surprised me, though. My brother-in-law was one of those rare people who were truly “grace-full”, so much so it couldn’t help but spill over and touch other people with its healing effect.

I don’t mean to make him sound like a saint, because he was just a human being like all the rest of us. Yet in spite of the grave illness that set so many physical boundaries for him during his life, he was a man bound and determined to live his life fully, and he did everything with a zest I still envy. Perhaps, in that respect, he was one in a million.

Many of us have Michaels in our lives – people who inspire and instill hope in us. We admire them; and we long for that illusive gift of grace they seem to have in their possession. But many of us also know people embittered by the hardship of life, people who seem to live in the shadows of pain or fear or loneliness. We pity them, for it seems they have been robbed of a great treasure – that graciousness we all desire. It does not seem to be circumstance or means that makes the difference. Grace can be found in the most dire situations, just as it can be absent in the most fortunate. What, then, can possibly cause such a difference?

I am convinced that faith – in its broadest sense – is what makes the difference. Faith is as simple – and as difficult – as accepting the fact of mystery in the world and refusing to waste time or energy demanding answers to pointless questions like “Why?”. Faith is as simple, and as difficult, as recognizing the miracle in each breath, every heart beat, the full palette of emotion and thought. Faith is as simple, and as difficult, as allowing your loved ones to walk with you to death’s door, and leaving them, when the time has come, with a smile and the surety of peace. I don’t know the odds of finding such faith – one in a million? – but I know the quest is worth everything.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”    Hebrews 11:1

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