I find myself this morning with a few moments to myself, access to a computer and something on my mind. So join me, would you? I hope you don’t mind if I deviate from my usual blog formula today.
I’ve been hooked lately on this wildly popular show on the Discovery Channel called Deadliest Catch. It’s about hard-scrabble sailors who fish for crab on Alaska’s Bering Sea. Life is hard out there and metaphor is cold, wet, jarring reality. Storms can kill you out there.
The past couple of weeks the show has focused on the illness and death of one of the best loved skippers in the fleet: Phil Harris of the Cornelia Marie. Last night I was up till 1 am glued to the TV as they showed episode after episode focused on his life, his ship, his sons, his crew, his death. He died young, at the age of 53, this past January. His sons are young. Too young for this.
I watched as the footage rolled by–in one scene Josh, the eldest son, sits in a monochromatic box of a room with a doctor as all the words wash over him: “I tried for over an hour,” “we need to make a decision,” “we’ve done all we could do”–those kinds of words. Then all the questions come: who to call first, what arrangements to make, when will it all happen. They all come, all at once. I’ve been there.
My dad was a couple years older than Phil when he died. I’ve lost both my parents; my mother to a long, cruel, crippling illness at the age of 42, my father to a sudden, massive heart attack at 55. So I relate to Josh Harris’ experience; I’ve been in that room, heard all those words, was part of all those decisions and conversations. I’ve felt the shock, confusion; the in-the-moment race to get it all done, all the while muscling away, for the moment, the deep and gnawing sense that something is very, very wrong.
We are born, we stick around for a while, and we die. It happens, right? It’s the way of things. And yet there’s no getting used to it. Every time death surprises us. We just can’t imagine that this is the way things are, for everybody, all the time. At least I can’t.
I am not sure whether it’s different when people live long lives. Most of the people in my family have tended to die young. But even in the few cases where those I love have lived long, full lives, it still felt wrong, like there should have been more time. Unfinished.
After my dad died, I spend some time wondering whether I should just give up on God. I could never reject the idea of God entirely, I just wasn’t sure whether I still wanted anything to do with Him. After so much pain, I was just tired. You’ve been there, haven’t you?
God stayed with me, waited, and eventually, at the right time, reminded me of who I am. So I came back to Him.
And in the meantime, I came to realize why I couldn’t really give up on God. I can’t live without hope. If we really believe in God, if we trust God, we hope in God. And that hope, ultimately, is in the truth that someday, all that is very, very wrong will be made right, because we are loved. We are not forgotten. We are not alone.
I’ve spent much of my life already studying scripture, following God, holding on to my faith, my hope. It has been very hard. Why have I done this? Because of words like this: Reunion. Reconciliation. Resurrection. All things new and all the time in the world and beyond to enjoy them. Someday there will be something like a great banquet, and the people I have loved will be there; those I have lost and those who have lost me. We’ll finally be together. Relationship. All things new. Forever.
That’s what it all boils down to, at least to me. I grieve with the Harris boys. They’re too young for this. I pray for reunion for them, someday.
This post is not about who gets in and who doesn’t, who’s right and who’s wrong. I don’t know about that, beyond what I’ve read and believe from scripture. And it’s God’s decision anyway. So I’d rather not worry about it. All I know is, I’ve spent a lot of time questioning, raging, wondering, and searching. And to me, in the end, nothing makes sense without a loving God.