Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Friday Sunsets

It has been a perfect day on the beach, leaving us sun-kissed, salty, and content. We sit quietly with our toes in the ocean as Jayci breathlessly counts down the sun's descent towards the horizon. It scatters rays of light across the pink-hued sky, reflecting in the glittering waves. Five, four, three, two, one. And just like that, the flaming ball dips below the horizon, ending it's magnificent journey abruptly, leaving orange clouds quickly darkening to black, and pink skies retreating into navy. I am surprised by how fast darkness falls once the sun is gone.
"Where did it go?" Jayci worries. "Will it come back?" And I am reminded of what today signifies: the dark days and nights over 2000 years ago, when Jesus sacrificed on the cross, the veil was torn, and the world was dark. For three days, his followers waited. Scared, hopeless, confused, questioning, disbelieving.

I think of my own dark days after Caden was born. It doesn't take much to go back there, to remember how dark a place it could be sitting by Caden's bedside while his chest was open, his heart beating quietly inside - questioning God's plan, wondering what He was doing, certain there must be some great big mistake. And yet, with Caden, we learned that it is in the midst of the darkness that God is saving us. In Christ's death, we are offered life. And I know the story doesn't end with darkness. That God's silence doesn't mean that He doesn't know what He is doing, or that He has abandoned us. 

And strangely, it is in His suffering on the cross and the darkness of His death that we can grip most strongly the tenuous thread of suffering that connects us with one another and with Him. Knowing that I was not the only mother bearing a son born with a broken heart. That not every parent has the gift we were given of bringing home our child whole and well. That cancer ravages bodies and adultery destroys marriages and children don't have enough to eat . . . the list goes on and on of a broken world full of darkness and heavy-laden with suffering. Sometimes all of life feels like the dark days after Christ's death. Where God remains strangely silent, Christ is in the tomb, and all hope seems lost.

And even though the darkness isn't the end of the story, it still plays an important role in the story. Because the death is somehow necessary for life. The darkness an integral part of flaming sunsets and painted sunrises.
As we walk back to our van under the freshly-dark sky, I notice the velvety blackness of the clouds, the tiny pin-prick lights of the stars, the soft sound of gently lapping waves, the soft sand between my toes . . . and I realize that dark doesn't mean it's not still beautiful, peaceful, grace-filled. It's just harder to see. I belatedly speak to answer Jayci's questions, explaining that the sun never ever goes away, our world just shifts and turns and we can't see it for a little while. But it will come back, it always comes back.

Today, and every moment until the sun rises on Easter morning, I am trying to remember the lesson that we learned with Caden: faith in the darkness, despite the circumstances. It's a faith more beautiful and full for being hard-won. I'm spending time praying for all of you who are sitting in the middle of the darkest days and nights you can imagine. For those sweet mommas' I've met whose babies are in heaven, for all the friends and strangers who together face loss, sickness, hurt, death . . . Remember that dawn and resurrection are coming, and God promises joy in the morning.


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