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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Finding a Still Beautiful World in the Silence

Hello, Silence, my old friend.

During the last week of July, we were on vacation in Colorado and there was virtually no cell or internet service in the stunning house we rented along the Frying Pan river.  This lack of connection with the outside world was, I'm positive, divinely decided so that I would focus on connecting with the real world outside my windows, the real people in my life, the very real beauty that I could find, not through a screen, not through a heavily filtered photo, but right in front of my face.  Flowers I could touch with my hands.  River water I could feel with my toes.  Fish and snakes and mice that I could see with my eyes. (while standing on my tippy toes on the highest chair I could find).  The flesh and blood parents from whom I came that I could hug. The very real little boys who came from me whose heads I could kiss before they ran out the door to see the wonders of mountains and rivers, of trout and garter snakes..  

There was a lot during the week to think about and the internet silence was a blessing in that regard.  The anniversary of the passing of Gavin Rupp, a boy who fought brain cancer, came in the middle of our week there and when I woke early that morning and tried to send a message to Gavin's mom,  I again found the persistent "Network Error" message at the top of my Iphone.  Rather than have the ability to read tributes and peruse photos that I knew would be prevalent in the online community, I was forced to realize that God wanted me to put the gadgets aside and walk to the window that I had left open during the night, so that we could hear the river's rush. 

I knelt at a chair there and prayed as I had so many, many times in the past 365 days for my new friends, the Rupps, for Gavin's buddies who would start high school without him this year, and for the parents, the children, the nurses, the doctors and the tireless volunteers that I have met in this pediatric cancer community. I prayed for all of them.  And as tears splashed dotted stains on my pajamas, I prayed hardest for me.  I prayed that although I woke up that morning with a pit in my stomach remembering the ugliness of that anniversary, I would still be able keep my promise to Gavin a year before.  And God put me exactly in the place where fulfilling that promise would be easy.

The promise came in a letter I wrote to Gavin at 3:00 am the day after he died.  I vowed to try hard to find beauty every day forward because I had been told that God would make beauty from ashes.  I wanted desperately to believe it, even when the pain of this boy's loss was so overwhelming that the world seemed full of only darkness and ugliness.

A year after Gavin's death, I spent the morning in a rocking chair on a patio watching a pajama clad boy fly fish in the river.  There were no dinging text notifications coming from my phone.  There were no photos downloading on my Facebook page.  Instead, I listened to water flow over rocks and watched a little fisherman's red hair gleam in the morning sun.  I cheered as a very angry fish wiggled on the end of a barely visible line.  I counted colors among the flowers in the pots and beds at my feet.  I tried to make out each individual tree in the mountains covered by millions. 

I sat still and knew that as I was trying desperately to keep my promise to Gavin, God was surely keeping His promises to me.

Be still and know. He is God.

The same as He was a year ago, the same today, the same tomorrow.  Still with me, still with them.  Still showing me that a life of brutality can remain a life of beauty.

He showed me so much beauty this year, Gavin. He showed me new friends and new battles to be fought.  There are so many people working hard because of you. He showed me how those everyday, flawed people can take tragedy and turn it into triumph.  He showed me how to take a story of a boy and bring it to life so that it can reach thousands.  He showed me that there is goodness and healing and purpose among this bruised, broken, confused world.

He showed me through you, Gavin.  Last summer, I questioned God and begged Him to make me see and I know He heard me.  There have been many moments over this last year when I know He is answering me.  I don't hear His voice.  I don't have prophetic dreams.  I just open my eyes.  On July 30th this year, He showed me, Gavin.

You are missed.  I know that in your home, in your neighborhood, at your ballpark, and in your school your absence is heavy and it is heartbreaking and it will continue to be so.  But for me, because of what your story taught me, I find your presence is everywhere and with each new day the essence of you shines joy and hope into a world that has much work to do to help other children entrenched in the battle you fought.  On the anniversary of the loss of you, your beauty took the form of so much of His creation to remind me that yes, this life can be tragic and it is wholly imperfect but when I am still, I know.  I know something very, very important.

It is still a breathtakingly beautiful life, isn't it?  Thank you for showing me, Gavin.  I will never stop looking and I will never forget.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
-Romans 8:38-39

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