The average number of hits per day from the regular readership of this blog is about 50. Two days added together would be 100. The last two days at this writing, late in the evening of the second day is 1805. Here is what that means: Just the tip of the iceberg of all those who love and care about Pr. Jeff and Jacob, Laura, Joshua and Joy is 1805. I can’t even begin to imagine how many people that represents. There are all those who happen not to have clicked on this particular link, those who don’t happen to be connected by Facebook to someone sharing the link, those who don’t happen to be on Facebook at all, those who are not comfortable using a computer.
There is simply no way to begin to count the lives that have been touched in some way by Pr. Jeff and Laura. There is, of course, the ripple effect. The impact moves in concentric circles intersecting the concentric circles of other people’s lives as the waves continue to spread.
What is especially thought provoking is how that rippling witness affects those of us who are now trying to incorporate something of what has happened into our lives as we return to our daily routines. As I was doing some devotional reading this morning, the Writer had something to say that caused me to think differently about that tragic accident. Certainly what has been said at the Funeral and in the comments of so many of their friends in the social media reflects that different thinking. On the surface, that awful day is about death, three deaths. Of course death happened and it was real, but it was a day that was not at all about death.
Death is actually an affirmation of life. It refuses to allow us to be lulled into ennui or apathy about our daily lives. Death is what defines life. Life is “not-death.” Laura, Joshua and Joy have life. Pr. Jeff has life. Jacob has life. We have life. Yes, our life here includes pain, horrible, indescribable pain for some. The ability to feel that pain is a sign that we are alive. When a limb is paralyzed, it is the capacity to react to pain that signals that life has returned.
Death affirms the value of the life that preceded it. Memories become more vivid. Events that seemed ordinary before, become the stuff of great stories, legacies to be savored and celebrated. The people who have died become wound into the lives of those who loved them as their own lives go on.
Death is about the present most of all. Those of us who remain alive here have the gift of “Now.” What effect does that tragic day in our past have on Now? It certainly shocks us out of the ennui, the apathy. We are alive, right now. A gift that those three people who have left our view to live elsewhere have given us is the wonder we have gained at the life we are being given at this very moment.
I suppose the challenge for us is to find ways to remain alert to the immense value of each Now as it comes. It is unrealistic to expect to be able to spend every moment consciously celebrating the life we are being given. At the same time, in light of what has just happened, it makes no sense to waste such a valuable gift as Now.
When I started writing this blog after Mary Ann died, I decided that if I was going to do more than simply exist, I would have to make a choice. I would have to choose life. The tag line for this blog is: Existence is a gift. Life is a choice. It makes a difference how we spend each Now as it comes. The “Call to Live” urges me to engage people in relationship with as little pretense as I can muster. It urges me to look at whatever furnishes my moments to see signs of the Presence of God.
As I try to incorporate the loss of Mary Ann, the tragic accident only days ago that has touched so many – as I try to incorporate them into the stream of Nows that will form the days and weeks to come, I am choosing to feel the pain and the joy, the sweetness of relationships with family and friends, the wonder of sunsets and rain, art and music, the routine and the exciting, the struggles and failures, the victories – to see in all of them signs of the Presence of God.
It is past midnight now. The final count for the last two days is 1837. Pastor Jeff and Jacob, you and Laura and Joshua and Joy are touching the lives of more than you will ever know.