Life takes unexpected turns; we can't see around the corners that we approach and, in truth, it is just as well that we cannot. I rounded a corner in the past week, one that was inevitable and, yet, dreaded. My sister--my big sister, Carol--fell gravely ill and, after a gallant battle of four days against the certainty of her death, slipped from our fingers into the waiting hands of God. Carol had neither husband nor children and is survived by four siblings, their spouses, and eight nieces and nephews. And memories, of course.
Carol was a fighter, a rebel in her own right, a stubbornly-certain black-and-white thinker in a world of grays. She is not the only person I have ever seen ejected from a little league baseball game (she was a bit too emphatic when the umpire called me out as I watched strike three sail past), but she was the only sister I've seen it happen to. Carol's life was one of a struggle for independence, a struggle to overcome a painful childhood, a struggle to love herself and to find love beyond the bounds of her family. She was an idealist of the wildest order, a devotee of Ayn Rand and was mesmerized, in her younger years, by the poetry of Rod McKuen and the songs of The Kingston Trio.
Like so many people who deny their dependence on others, Carol spent most of her life being lost. She became a huge fan of Neil Diamond and his music, and I can't help thinking, today, of the lyrics to one of his songs, "Stones." Perhaps you know the words. The second verse says:
Lordy child, a good day's coming
And I'll be there to let the sun in
bein' lost is worth the coming home....
I grieve for my sister, and not just for the love we shared or the memories we made, but for her being lost. She had much to give to the world and she lost so much of the joy she might have found had she been fully engaged with the world that she lived in. Being lost may be worth the coming home, but it is not a necessary price. There is a home in which we are all welcome, always welcome, ever loved, and we need not be lost in order to find it. There is a family founded on Jesus' love that waits at the door, longing, hoping, cheering for our arrival. And behind this family, He stands, with open arms and a spirit of adoption, eager to forgive and to ready to call us brother or sister.
Maybe you have a brother or a sister like mine. Love them tenderly, for behind their hard shell, they are fragile beyond belief. But remind them, whenever you can, that we are all dependent on one another and on the God of our creation. Tell them of the home that is theirs just for the turning toward it. Wait for them there, and cheer their arrival.
May the peace of Christ be yours, now and always.
Thanks for all your kindness.