Seven days. The time it took for a sacred Breath exhale to bring all things into being followed by the holy rest of satisfaction in the goodness of it.
Six rotations of the earth plus one sabbath go round equals seven days of what real life is supposed to be…the stewarding of things without toil and sweat followed by a cease and an ease that flows like a river into a space of being where you are present in His presence. It’s a holy rhythm. It’s the way life should be.
We know it’s true. Into the deep some of us must go to find what we really want to possess. Buried within the human heart is a longing for more goodness, more beauty. More kindness and more truth. Even if the heart cannot name them, the longing for the way life should be eventually makes its way to the surface like stones in an Irish field.
This longing has even been slogan-ized and stenciled on a sign where I live.
Except real life here in Maine or anywhere else on the spinning blue ball isn’t what it should be at all.
Sometimes there are seven days of heartbreak.
Sometimes there are seven days of loss.
The trouble with that little four-letter word loss is how many layers it has.
It’s a small word with a big footprint.
To lose some thing implies there was once a possession of that thing; a holding, an owning of it, and now it’s gone. But, can everything you no longer possess be considered a loss? Maybe you sold it, or you gave it away. It’s possible you destroyed it.
Loss is hard to define.
It could have been stolen or misplaced.
Maybe it was let go.
Perhaps it was good-byed.
You may not be eloquent enough to define loss, but you know loss when you see it.
You know loss when you feel it.
There are so many things to lose and so many ways to lose them.
There is lost time, lost money, lost weight, a lost limb, a lost parking spot, lost joy, lost voice, lost dog, lost hearing, a lost child, lost game, lost mind, lost ring, a lost friend, lost sight, lost virginity, a lost place in line, lost love, a lost soul.
You navigate up and down the levels of loss and you quickly learn the differences.
Losing a spouse or child to death is not like losing keys to the bottom of the sofa cushions.
One…a bone-aching, heart crushing thing.
The other, a frown-lining, lip-pursing annoyance.
This time it was a seven day ride through a maze of different levels of losses beginning with the good-bye of the second son, The Traveler, and his family to a place where the buildings scrape the sky and six-lane highways thread the landscape full. Only a six hour drive from The Traveler’s first home, yet far enough away that his new home looks nothing like Maine. Far enough away where the spontaneous visit isn’t possible anymore. Far enough away where hugs are measured in months instead of days.
How many throat clutching tears can one lose standing there on the sidewalk next to Kathy’s Diner after the last breakfast?
More tears were lost when news came of the decisions of those loved most who chose to walk in different directions than expected. No one knows how it will all turn out in the end because the stakes are high and the convictions seem low. Rehabilitations and new habitations up-ended the status quo and things are just different.
Then in the middle of the seven days it was learned our friend’s bones began aching deep and his heart began crushing fierce over the loss of his wife to cancer.
Our funny friend Vicki. Still young. Now gone.
Finally, on the seventh day came the breath-sucking, shoulder-sagging loss in the learning of betrayals in marriage. So much collateral damage rippling like a bee sting, sharp and throbbing at the same time. In this kind of loss there is no prediction of the future because this kind of loss rips up the past while taking the wind out of the present.
Seven days of crying over so much more than some silly milk spill. In the same way as milk splashed all over the floor, these losses, these things that are no longer held, can never be put back the way they were.
So when you’re standing over the washing machine after your diamond suddenly broke away from your wedding band and plunked into one of the holes of the wash tub, forever lost in a maze of gadgetry, you have to face the hard truth that some things are lost for good. Looking into the Clorox-ed abyss, you realize you’re going to have to live with the loss. It will become your new normal.
There is a temptation to get lost in the narrative:
This is the way life is; get over it. Don’t even think about how it should be.
Hope is the shimmering shadow over the ash heap of loss.
It glitters like a holy gauze the way the late afternoon sun sparkles on water.
Hope says I will see The Traveler and his family again soon.
For the ones loved most, Hope says that they are under the gaze of the One who loves them best and He beckons toward a better road just one step away.
Hope says my friend will see his beloved wife again. It is a blood-sealed promise.
In the meantime, in the middle of loss or perhaps on the other side of it, maybe there’s a a way to turn what’s left into something unexpected.
Maybe your beloved will take your broken ring and have it pounded and reshaped into a symbol of his love that can never be broken.
Maybe after you have been pounded and reshaped by loss, you will find that you shimmer and sparkle into hope.
Maybe your broken life, marked by loss, becomes a reflection of the redemptive love of Jesus, Who suffered all the losses there ever was and all the losses there ever will be only to become your ultimate Gain.
Maybe it’s the way your life is meant to be.