Guest Post by David Stoddard
A year ago today he got up never knowing it would be his last day at home. Or, his first day home. I wonder if he knew or sensed anything different. I wonder if the day felt any different. I wonder what would have changed if he knew it was his last. I am sure he would have called to say good-bye. To remind me he loved me. That he was just going away for a while, that it was just a matter of waiting until welcoming me home. Would he have gone around marking things to give away to certain people? What would his last goodbyes have been like? What affairs would he have arranged, knowing it was his last day to get things in order? My guess: he would have called each one of us, told us he loved us, gone to sunset rock with mom and smoked a pipe. And waited.
Death interrupts life. It unmasks the brevity of life. It exposes the lie that we are immortal and time is in our hands. It unmasks how real mortality is; how near mortality can be. But the converse is also true: life interrupts death. It masks the hole which death leaves behind. It masks our ability to process the effects of death. Life marches on assuming you will keep up with its cadence. You still have to work. You still have kids. You still have responsibilities. But those things shouldn’t be the things which define us. There is a Real beyond the superficial things which seem to define our daily existence.
When do we have the clearest picture of reality? When do we truly see life as it is? The Gospel as it is? My natural assumption is that we see clearest when nothing hinders our view; when our vision is corrected and we don’t need glasses. So a dry-eyed perspective is the best. But what if we really truly see through tears? What if tears are the lenses through which we finally understand life, both its futility and the hope we have in the Gospel? What if we were designed to wear tear-filled glasses? What if we really only see the light when we realize we are living in the shadows? The shadows remind us that danger is near, that something large and ominous is coming but also that He is here. We live better, with a greater hope, when we live in the valley of the shadow of death-- with tears for lenses.
Written on the first anniversary of Dana Stoddard's passing on November 6, 2013.