It’s Saturday, and I’m up early before I’m due at the Earle Harrison House in Waco to rehearse the wedding ceremony of my dear friend Jenni and her groom, Colten. The coffee brews, and I’m overwhelmed by the weight of glory in this day, one to celebrate two lives and their union, to stand with friends at an outdoor altar and bear witness to such beauty. I consider the loyalty and love of us sitting together during hard months, of sticking it out through different paths. I weep joyfully, I pray over their life together as the morning sun makes its way through the blinds.
Sunday morning Caroline and I sit in the quiet of my newly decorated house. We are recovering from the happy exhaustion of the day before, hearts still full with congratulations and soul-stirring poolside conversations lasting deep into the night. We talk church and journey, Caroline mentions Kant and I roll my eyes and shrug, as I always do when the graduates from my program go somewhere intellectually where I can’t follow. Preston calls. He doesn’t know I don’t know yet.
Monday, I tell my mom the news–that a beloved professor has died from the same cancer my father battled in 2006. I weep as I walk into campus for work, hoping my sunglasses will keep me decent. I cry because of the mark she impressed on me in my small time of knowing her, for the grace and beauty of her life, for the untimeliness of her death, for the young family that survives her, for the drawn and sad faces of her colleagues, for the cruelty of cancer, for the brokenness of this world, the gash in the fabric that sends the melody askew. It seems I cry for three days straight.
On Wednesday morning, I make my way into a little baptist church that was not made to fit this many friends and strangers, and certainly not this much grief. We remember her. We sing of the life we have in Christ, of future glory, of life everlasting.
Everything is gift, she said that day in class, palm held upward, eyes searching around the table, everything is gift.
The ones who speak address my professor’s widowed husband, and I think of another wedding day, one I did not attend. I think of the one I just stood in (only four days ago?), imprints of soulful embraces and celebration still fresh. And I know that one informs the other, that marriage describes again and again the sort of holy union we will one day share with our Creator and Lord, and every tear will be wiped away.
Maybe it’s too easy of an answer, a cheap eschatological bandage against a present, bleeding wound. In my moments of hurt and anger, my heart pricks at how throwaway this sounds, however true. In both the light of day and shadow of night, the unabstracted tragedy catches the words in my throat.
But if it is a simple answer, it is a difficult practice. To live in light of the Resurrection, with a hope both for the present and the future, requires a courage that I am not always sure I contain, a shield of faith I do not always hold well.
It strikes me suddenly, that both my friend and my teacher have, in their own ways, shown me how to live in such a manner, to do that very thing I feel I cannot do.
And so in this moment, though all is not reconciled and the tears are streaming, I am grateful for the communion of the saints, and the life of the world to come.