Here, at the end of this Lenten Season, on the eve of Easter, I am drawn to the memory of people whose lives have crossed mine in meaningful ways. So many of them, so that the crossings have created a tightly woven fabric that wraps itself like a warm blanket around my spirit. There are no accidental crossings. I truly believe this.
This last chunk of time has been filled with profound comings and goings. We have fresh new spirits among us: grandbabies Joe, and Beth and fresh-from-Heaven Walter, and a new little angel prepares for the journey in our niece, Katie. Woven into these fresh new fibers are old ones, where the threads wear thin and disappear. The upper layer of my earthly existence is gone now. My parents and my husband's parents are dead. And there are those who are contemporaries, and some even younger, who have skipped up to heaven, some of them taking two or three steps at a time so that they arrived way too early.
I am reminded of my friend Cindy Gardner, who left us weeks ago. The other day I was going through a drawer in my bedroom and I came upon this sign, tucked into a plastic bag. I had made this banner a few years back, after Cindy had lost her breast, and lost her hair, and yet found her health after walking through the deep valley of the shadow of death. She took that distressing path and rose up triumphant! My sister Libby took Cindy to every single chemo appointment, both three years ago when cancer first reared its ugly head, and this past 18 months, when it plunged its deadly sword too deep for the body to survive. But that first go round, when Cindy's oncologist told her she was cancer free, we had great cause to celebrate. I strung this banner across Cindy's garage door.
Because I am a keeper of things, especially sentimental ones, I kept the sign. I had hoped to string it across her garage door once again, hoping against all odds that there would be a miracle drug that would save her, or that the Lord would touch her with his divine finger and heal her. We both knew He could have done that. But she knew, somehow, that He would not.
I remember hearing Cindy's daughter, Meg, at her high school graduation, the day they declared that Cindy's cancer was back and would be terminal…I remember Meg saying "It isn't fair!"
And I remember Cindy agreeing with her. And with a face as calm as a summer morn she explained: It is not supposed to be fair. If life were fair it would be a shame, because then we would none of us get to wear the custom made suits the Lord designed for us. Do you think God would give his most precious creations a one-size-fits-all experience? No, life is not fair, and hooray for that!
Then with dignity and grace, with trust that overshadowed fear, Cindy took that walk through the gate, leaving her cherished ones behind. What a courageous thing.
So now I lay this banner on her grave, true as it was the day we strung it across her garage door. She fought the good fight, and though she…like all of us…was not without blemish, she gets to go Home. Home…where no one can enter with blemish. There lies the magnificent gift this Easter season celebrates. He cleanses us. Only He can do it, because only He is without blemish.
Because He triumphed…
So can we.
A blessed Easter to all.
A blessed Easter to all.