There are clubs out there without names or charters or offices.
Clubs without buildings or meeting rooms or chairs or calendar meeting dates.
These are the ‘groups of life’ that you join through experiences, both beautiful and tragic. The knowing glances from newlyweds as they watch their friends walk the aisle- joining the marriage club. Among the pews are also glances of love lasted, worn or torn, that come from those with even more experience in the ‘marriage club’.
Early morning runners greet each other with knowing waves, travelers with heavily stamped passports advise those with newly issued tickets, new mothers tell birth stories (sometimes too graphically) to those whose bellies await delivery- they all share a bond of common experiences.
Then there are the tragedies. The ache you feel for someone, both known and unknown, that is walking a path you have already stumbled through. While I have not walked the path of a cancer diagnosis, or lost a child that was running through my home that very morning, I ache for them. But my pain, my thoughts, can never join their hearts in that terrible membership status like those that have received the same news.
There is a beautiful song that sings the line “we are all one phone call from our knees” and that is so true for all. This past week, I watched one of my dearest friends thrown into membership of a club I reluctantly belong to as well…the sudden death of her father. I did not want that membership card, nor does anyone else, but life sends you your journey and you must take it in hand.
Each path is different, and at no point do I make light of someone’s painful journey, nor pretend to know their exact feelings or solutions. I do, however, feel with a compassion so deep and wide for her in that loss that I have personally experienced. I left full grocery carts standing in aisles because I could not see through my sobs and tears to push any further. I have crumpled to the ground with a grief far deeper than I could have perceived would grip my heart and mind. She may not leave a cart in the aisle, but she will crumple, as we have done in such great loss, for grief is hard and strong and tough.
Yet, through it all, if one looks, glimpses of grace will be found. If you are watching and expecting and asking for it, grace comes. Sometimes it is little things, like a perfect orange leaf blowing and landing on your windshield when you can’t catch your breath, or that song that begins on the radio at just that moment. Sometimes God uses the people around you to be props when you can’t walk. Or prayers uttered across town are somehow felt in individualized ways. Sometimes it is just peace.
It is just for moments like this, the deepest darkest moments that life brings our way, that light is all you can seek. God’s grace is powerfully stronger than our deepest grief. It is there no matter the day or hour or minute. Thank Heaven for that.
I love you my sweet friend. I ache for you today. I pray for God’s grace to surround you.