Thursday, February 26, 2009

Coffeegirl Book Club

Chapter 7: The Deathly Snows

"Goodness and love are as real as their terrible opposites, and, in truth, far more real…love is the final reality; and anyone who does not understand this, be he writer or sage, is a man flawed in wisdom."

I have to say, reading this chapter is absolutely heart wrenching (in fact, Jason asked why I inflicted the self torture on myself by choosing this book, knowing this chapter would eventually come). But it also reflects so many elements of what the ending of the physical life is meant to be for Christians. Davy’s response to the news of her illness, along with the weight of the reality of her pending death, seemed to be an overflow of the love and trust in God that had been nurtured in her heart over the years. It would be impossible to reflect that manner without the true love and peace of God dwelling richly within. Sorrow and fear remained, but Davy and Van both spoke confidently of their trust in the Almighty God, saying, “Go under the Love, dearling. Go under the Mercy.”

It’s made me wonder how I would respond and behave in that situation.What would my final words be, particularly if spoken unconsciously? If the roles were reversed, could I care for my loved one with the depth of courage that Vanauken demonstrated? Am I building a life that celebrates God’s goodness in little things in such a way that I would genuinely delight in His goodness in my final days and hours?

One passage that has spurred my thoughts this week is the description of carrying one another’s burdens:

…carrying one another’s burdens is not just a figure of speech or something meaningful only in terms of physical burdens like a trunk.Davy’s burden was not death but the fear of death. I asked her to give me that burden, a real handing over, like surrendering a trunk to a porter. An act of handing over. And I took it – also act. I then entered into the fear, her fear, with all my heart and mind and imagination, felt it, carried it along with my own fear, which was also real but other. And her burden grew lighter.

This description has really challenged me to consider my own ways of not just bearing the burdens of others, but letting others bear burdens of mine. With the first case, it is far too easy for me to partially enter into someone else’s pain – to sympathize and encourage without fully entering into the burden with them. With the second case, I am far more comfortable with bearing other people’s burdens than letting them bear mine. I’ve been thinking about the ways I may prevent other people from engaging in this form of Christian fellowship with me, and beyond that, why I prevent it.

These are the thoughts percolating in my living room – what about you?


Julie said...

Hi Coffeegirl,

While I wasn't able to get in on this book, I was wondering what the next book is for your book club.

Shan in Japan said...

"How should I approach God? What should I say to the Incarnate God who made the world and suffered it to crucify Him? I thought of Grey Goose, never again to sail the waters of this world; I thought of poetry, including my own and of all the dear things; I thought of Islands in the West. Then I rolled it all together into a ball... And then I offered up all of it to the King: take all I have ever dreamed, all I may ever long for including the death I shall certainly long for: I offer it up, oh Christ, for her, fore her best good, death or life."
As I read that I wondered what my response would be to God be if someone I loved was in the same situation.
And then, a few pages later:
"Davy strove to do God's will. More important, she strove to make her own will conform to God's will: to will what He willed."
Would I be striving to conform my will to God's will if I was terminally ill? Would I be serving the nurses and other patients in the hospital as Davy was?
Knowing what was coming in this chapter I went ahead and read it on the train! I had to stop twice because I was sniffing so much and couldn't get my hands on my tissues since I was standing and my hands were full! Even though I had another 1/2 an hour to ride I knew better than to try to keep on reading into the next chapter.
Looking forward to what God wants to challenge me with next chapter!

Libby said...

I cried so much in this chapter. When I finished it I went in to talk to my husband who had just woke up and we actually ended up talking about other things but it led to more crying. Things from our conversation and this chapter really "got to me"...such as the section when he talked about her being in a coma and how he "talked her out" of it, his loving care for her. "There was a sort of joy between us. I was not just loving her, I was as wildly in love as I had ever been, and so was she."
His beautiful poem he wrote her for a Christmas gift. All the sweet acts of kindness and expressions of love that one might not even think about unless you were in a situation like theirs.

All of this reminded me of a time when I had typhoid and my husband cared for me so lovingly too and we talked of many things that have happened since we were married and how they have come out of our oneness in Christ and as husband and wife. I was actually kind of dreading this chapter (I remember bawling my eyes out last time we read it) but the Lord gave me and my husband a special time together because of it.

Becky Aguirre said...

Sorry, I've been dealing with sick kids and then I got it myself...quite a nasty cold going around over here. :(

I didn't get too emotional until towards the end of the chapter...didn't use any tissues, just let the tears flow. And Van has such a gift for words, he really communicated well the emotions they were you said, heart-wrenching! But that's what good literature is about...

It was so touching to read about how close they were, right to the end as Davy was reaching up to touch his face. How he made some really major decisions in his life-gave up things-just to be near to her, pretty much dropped everything there at the end. They were so devoted to each other, their love was such a testimony and blessing.

I thought it was interesting how selfless Davy was, even though she had been told to stay in her bed, she would sneak out to go encourage someone else...I have to ask if I would have done the same?


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