Death, it is an ever present truth that sits at the foundation of humanity. All who are born into mortality are destined to die. It is a somber formula and harsh reality, and its sting is felt from time to time when we lose someone dear to us. Yet, why is it that we find ourselves most vulnerable when surrounded by death? Why is unity most present in times of mourning and tragedy? The answer is simple, and one I hope you can reflect on when faced with grief; Death gives birth to LOVE.
You may be wondering how is that possible? How can death and love intertwine? Think about a time you lost a loved one, or how you felt witnessing a global tragedy such as 9/11. Or more recently, look at how the world has united following the death of Kobe Bryant. In times of loss, hate is suppressed and mankind comes together to comfort one another. Even though there is grief, there is also self-reflection. We think of our loved ones still with us, and how blessed we are to have them in our lives, and how we want to cherish our time with them more than before. We even go out of our way to express our love for them, knowing how fragile life can be. In the depths of our sorrows, LOVE rises, and when it does it comforts us and helps us cope.
I want to share with you a snippet from my recent novel entitled The Kingdom of Light. I wrote this chapter shortly after my wife was diagnosed with Dysautonomia, when she had to struggle with accepting the fact that she now had to carry this disease with her for the rest of her life. In this chapter, a character named Hannah had just lost her son and she was ready to give up. But through her sorrows, something reached out to her…
The physical and emotional scars Hannah had recently endured pierced her soul, and a volcano of emotions erupted within her. She flailed herself down on a rock and wept uncontrollably.
Suddenly, a hand touched her shoulder. Hannah gasped and looked up through her tear-soaked eyes. An elderly man, with a scalp covered in wisdom stood beside her. His back was slightly hunched over, and his wrinkled face and ragged clothes were covered in dirt. He had the resigned look of one who knew at his age that life had stopped giving and only took away.
“Are you okay?” The man asked in a delicate tone.
“That's a silly question to ask,” Hannah spoke through her tears.
“I'm sorry, it’s been years since I last conversed with someone,” said the old man.
“Years?” Hannah flashed him a befuddled look.
“You're right; it’s been probably even longer than that!” The old man snickered.
“I don’t understand, is this your home?” Hannah inquired as she looked around the darkened cave.
“Cozy isn't it,” the old man grinned, showing off his crooked, yellow stained teeth. “You never know what lies within the caves of these hills. Forgive me. Had I known company was coming over, I would have straightened up a bit.”
A soft chuckle spewed from Hannah's soul. However, her emotions quickly repossessed her, and she began to weep again.
“Being alone out here for a while I haven't talked a whole lot, so I may not have much to say,” the old man said. “But it has made me a good listener.”
“I've lost everything,” Hannah said. “I was given a task to care for someone, and now I wish it was never given to me...because it hurts.”
“I've never seen someone so upset before,” the old man implied. “It must've been an important job. Who gave it to you?”
“A King,” Hannah replied.
“You mean Omepha?” The old man queried.
“You’ve heard of him,” Hannah glanced up through her tears.
“Of course! You don't live as long as I have and not hear about an immortal ruler with such integrity,” the old man stated.
“Integrity? He took everything from me!” Hannah’s frustration grew. “That's not integrity, its torture. I wish he never needed me.”
“Needed you?” The old man uttered. “Omepha doesn’t need anyone. But, he did choose you, which means he wanted you, and to be wanted by the King is something to not take lightly. Besides, I don't think he would’ve given you this burden if he knew you couldn't handle it.”
“Well I've reached my end. I have nothing left to give,” Hannah pulled the dried-out cloak from her pocket and dropped it on the damp ground. “It’s over.”
“That’s a shame,” the old man’s eccentric mood turned somber. “I think you dropped something.” He picked up the cloak and held it out.
“I did that on purpose,” said Hannah.
“I know,” said the old man. “But if you could, I’m trying to keep my place clean, for I have company.”
Hannah looked at the old man, who was smiling so wide she could see his missing molars. She reached out for the cloak, and when she grabbed hold of it, the old man grabbed her hand. A sudden joyful rush fluttered through Hannah’s spirit and a vision of her past appeared in her memory. It was of the time she spent with her young son. Times of hide and seek throughout the estate, reading bedtime stories, and teaching him how to garden. These cherished times were indelible and forever stored in Hannah’s heart. The time she spent raising her son was her legacy, and she played an important role in building his as well.
“You see,” the old man said as Hannah opened her eyes. “You fulfilled your calling a long time ago. You were asked to look out for this young boy, and you ended up raising a man of integrity.”
“But that part of my life is over now,” said Hannah, somberly. “Jadon's gone. What’s left?”
“You may have had some shattered dreams, but your story isn’t over yet. The King of your past is also the King of your future, and he brings redemption wherever he goes.” The old man leaned in and whispered into Hannah’s ear. “If you give up, you’ll miss out on what’s next.”
Hannah’s hand moistened and a stream of water ran down her fingers. She was surprised to find the cloak in her hand filled to the brim. She quickly tied the top to prevent any further water from pouring out.
“Who are you?” Hannah looked up. However, the old man who restored the pouch, along with her soul, had vanished.
Confused by the experience, Hannah wondered if the old man was just a figment of her imagination, or if he had been there all along. Perhaps he didn’t physically exist, but lived at the core of her soul, in the place where she kept her hopes and dreams.
...during Hannah's time of mourning, LOVE reached out and provided her hope.
There is a Psalm that tells us how God "heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." He is the source of the LOVE provided when we need it most. Don't believe me, just look at the cross. We were all dead in our transgressions, and needed salvation. And it was God who brought that to us. Not in a joyful, bubbly way, but through death. Jesus's death brought forth LOVE. Weeping may last for a moment, but it is not permanent. However, LOVE is a gift that never perishes.
That is why I believe our hearts are most vulnerable when we experience the sting of death, because it is in those dark times of mourning where we discover life's greatest treasure; LOVE.