The liturgy calls life in this age "a vale of tears" and I confess, as one is usually ridiculously upbeat, that always struck me as just wrong. But then there are times...when the darkness woven into the tapestry seems far greater than the occasional threads of gold. Piepkorn spoke, I believe, of surd evil. The darkness that you can't wrap your mind around. We've enjoyed ourselves in Puerto Rico. We even toyed with what it would be like to live there. The poor people of that Island and of so many others devastated. We honeymooned on St. Thomas and Cindi's aunt and uncle had a lovely place there for years. Is it gone? One of our closest friends in all the world, stricken with cancer. Still waiting for a complete diagnosis. Hearts breaking. A coworker's nephew, dead. Our next-door neighbor battling some horrid condition that continually saps her strength and her ability to communicate and despite trips to Mayo, no answers. No clue. Lauren and Dean moving to Wisconsin, but that means saying goodbye to some wonderful saints that they (and we!) have come to love and treasure. And how it brings back all the pain of leaving NC ourselves to come to Hamel all those years ago. Yes, this is a vale of tears. Sadness more than our hearts can bear at times.
And yet against the darkness woven into our lives, there glitter the threads of gold. This week, for us, the gift of grandchild #7 and grandson #4: Oliver James. Spending time with my brother, whom I had not seen in the flesh for some 12 years, travelling up and down Idaho with him and marvelling together at the beauty of God's world. Thankfulness for all the love that the good folks have St. Paul have lavished on Lauren and Dean and the kids; how they stepped in for us when we could not be there. Thankfulness that Lauren and Dean will now be only 8 hours away and the hope and plan of seeing more of them. Long weekends become possibilities! The gift of friends who seem always to know when to reach out and brighten a day. And the greatest of all: when you step back and look at the tapestry, you see that the golden threads and the dark background are not random. They trace an image. An image of the Man of Sorrows and Acquainted with Grief, the Man who walked the path of love for us and would let nothing deter Him from His cross, and who promises that in the end, all the darkness will be swallowed up in the light of His love.