"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:
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.
…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.
These are the thoughts percolating in my living room – what about you?