It's been a sobering week for us as we've contemplated some of the events that are taking place in our neighborhood at home. Our hearts have been reminded once again how very fragile life can be - and how little influence we really have over God's great universe.
Our friends, the Southwicks, lost their daughter-in-law, Cami, in her sleep last week to a suspected ruptured cerebral aneurysm. Cami was a 30-year-old wife and mother of four very young children. As young-marrieds, Ryan and Cami lived in our neighborhood for awhile. Our hearts go out to the entire Southwick family.
For Don and I, this hits very close to home. Why, in possibly very similar situations, was he spared and Cami taken? In our estimation, there could be nothing more important to God than to allow a faithful, loving mother to raise the four sweet children He gave her. Couldn't He just have intervened with a simple miracle to make sure that happened? What could be more important than that?
It's been a year since other friends in our neighborhood, the Calls, lost their son, Griffin, in an unexpected and tragic accident. We still haven't made sense of that experience, either.
As we began the fall semester this week, teaching five new Institute classes, we were asked to introduce ourselves and tell a little about our background. One of the things we felt impressed to share was both our brushes with death: Don's from his aneurysm and brain surgery, mine from cancer. We remembered the visits the Southwicks made to be with us in the hospital when Don was fighting for his life. It gave us reason to revisit the whole issue of why some are permitted to live through illnesses and accidents, and others not.
And then, over Labor Day weekend, we welcomed our Jenn and Iain for a three-day visit. It was so wonderful to have them here for a few days and to spend some time exploring the District together! Interestingly, our first stop was the deeply moving but heart-breaking Holocaust Museum. We hadn't been there for a long time - since before we met Esther, the beautiful 82-year-old Auschwitz survivor who told us her personal experiences in that death camp when we met her quite by accident there, in Poland, in 2008. The Holocaust Museum was much more personal for us this time as we thought of her and her family - those who lived through Auschwitz and those who did not.
We also happened onto a temporary exhibit of artifacts from 9-11 on display in the Smithsonian's Museum of American History during our weekend with Jenn and Iain. Another sobering memory of a day some lived and several thousand did not.
A long walking tour of Arlington National Cemetery reminded us yet again of the price of war in American lives -- over one million three hundred thousand courageous lives lost, beginning with the Revolutionary War.
Life can be so fragile. This is when I am grateful that I KNOW without any doubt that there is a God and that He loves us and He is in charge and He will make all things right and fair -- and worth what we go though. He loved us enough to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to take all the sins and pain in the world upon himself in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knows how to help us conquer the trials we face because he has already carried them for us. We can put our lives in his hands. We can trust him. He knows us better than anyone else ever will. He rejoices with us in our happiness and He sorrows with us in our darkest hours. We can turn to Him when we are on top of the world. We can turn to Him when we are broken and worn out and afraid. He has already born our grief and carried our sorrows. With the benefit of 64 years of experience, I have weathered enough trials to know that if we will turn to Him and humble ourselves and keep His commandments and listen for His guidance, no matter what we face, no matter what happens, in the end it will be O.K.
President Howard W. Hunter put it best when he said, "If our lives are centered upon Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and His teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right." It's true. Trials are never easy, but they are all temporary when we lean on our Savior, Jesus Christ.
We like to think we are in charge of our lives. We make choices; we take control. But things can change - and in the end, we are not really in charge. Just witnessing the power and force of nature here in Washington, D.C. the past few weeks has reminded us of that. Earthquake... tornado... and today... torrential flooding and a high terror alert due to the 9/11 anniversary Sunday. We changed our route home from an Institute class we were teaching near the Pentagon at noon to avoid the roads flooded out by massive thunderstorms during the past three days. Tonight it's still raining... hard. We pray that Sunday will be calm -- throughout the nation.
But the sun will shine again. It is easy to forget the many days of sunshine when we are watching claps of lightening overhead during a massive thunderstorm. It's easy to think the rain is never going to stop, but it will. And life will return to normal. Roads will dry out. Hearts will heal. There will be more good days. In the meantime, we will keep our eyes focused on the source of light and truth - the Son. ~Pat~
Post Script: Next week we promise to tell about our fun first week of Institute in the new fall semester.