Friday, July 6, 2012

Disappearing Into Perfection

We just got back from spending a week in Minnesota and Kansas.  Minnesota to visit a friend and Lake Superior, and Kansas to visit family and celebrate the 4th of July.  As always, it is good to be home and I always feel like I am a better person when I return.

One of our days in Minnesota (June 30) included a snack lunch in a cemetary on a hilltop overlooking Lake Superior.  It just happened to be the closest and quietest spot to the outfitters where we met a guide for a little kayaking on the lake that afternoon.

"We parked on the gravel road which bordered the southern end of the small cemetary.  There were 150 graves or so, at most, with lots of little American flags standing proudly by the soldier's graves.  We aimed our van downhill, so we could see Lake Superior over the trees and headstones.  Some unseen bird seemed to be whistling Taps over and over.  Brett and I both heard it.  I thought it might be a recording, as it seemed way too coincidental, besides impossible.  Brett thought it was just "trippy".  Among the dead, there were lots of twenty-somethings, a few babies, a hockey star, and a lady who would rather be playing Bingo.

This small, quiet cemetary made death seem more like a friend.  Still not a friend I want to rush over and visit, but one that might not be as cold or ugly or as violent as I've previously thought.

Before today, I've thought of death as a ripping away...A ripping away of all those you love and who love you back. 

But, today, looking at those quiet graves, I had the impression that for the one who is leaving earth, there is no loss.  There is only collect or wait patiently for their eternal reward.  It only feels "wrong" for those left behind.

As the souls of the dead are taken into something incomparably more vast than their bodily dwelling, it is edifying to see nature manifest itself in this same, but more tangible way; just like a little stream, as it plunges over and becomes part of the rushing and powerful Temperance River.

There was no complaint of being small and unnoticed, just a singleness of purpose - to join something bigger than itself.  It was set apart only for the time necessary to reach its destination.  In this case, the Temperance River, and then the cold, beautiful, and forbidding Lake Superior. 

This reminds me of how Thomas Merton describes life in a monastery (which is in direct contrast to life in the world). were admirable, worthy of honor, perfect, in proportion as they disappeared into a crowd and made themselves unnoticed, by even ceasing to be aware of their own existence and their own acts.  Excellence, here, was in proportion to obscurity:  the one who was best was the one least observed, least distinguished.

And so today, I am grateful for the times when I am drawn into something bigger than myself and can disappear into it.  Today, I hugged my husband on a little bridge over that little stream and felt the "bigness" of God's love through him.

I realized I meet God in my husband more often than I know.  I am small and his love is great and God's love is even greater than his great love.  A love great enough to disappear in - to become unaware of myself because I am consumed with receiving His love or consumed with loving Him back.

As I watched the people flock to the waterfalls and rivers, I pondered what it is that draws us there?  It seems to be a universal attraction.  Besides the obvious beauty, I think people like to see something that does not originate from man, that is more powerful than they are, and that obeys an unseen force.  I think it reminds them of God.  Not consciously for most, but deep within.

Dear God, Thank you for time away and for arriving safely back home.  Thank you for the beauty of Your creation and what it reveals of You.  Thank you for the glimpses of Your beauty, power, and love.  Thank you for people who make it easy to believe in Your love.  Help me to be one of them.  I love you.  Amen.

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