Sunday, June 22, 2008

Every Life for Good

"He didn't make it."

The sting of these words scatter my thoughts today. They're the words my brother used when he called Mom late Friday night. The birth of his son, William Steven Stanley, had come a month too soon.

He separated from his life source. No warning. No shout from his cozy growing space. His active body simply stopped.

No one knows why.

But we do know the sting is real. Losing life hurts. When life ends, grief grows toward a season of sorrow. And sorrow mingles among the tears of the living, weaving its way through a family, a community.

When God set loose his breath within this tiny human form and provided parents for his nurturing and protection, he intended for good.

He intends every life for good.

My brother grapples for understanding as he attempts to dismantle the beginnings of a nursery. "Robin, we saw the baby clap his hands. The nurse doing the ultrasound said that maybe he would grow up to be a gospel singer. No matter what she did, he just kept clapping." His voice trailed off. "Now I can't get this . . . this crib thing apart. I just put it together . . . you'd think I could figure it out."

A picture of his hurt, his helplessness.

Oh, God, I feel his hurt. His struggle with the finite nature of the human body. His frustration with not being able to make things better.

I haven't seen my brother Jim in over a year. I saw, then, his tearful journey with sorrow as our great Aunt Pearle lay unresponsive after a severe stroke. When I entered her room, he looked up at me from the foot of her bed, his heart broken. Tears poured out his helplessness. "She's not going to make it." I wrapped my arms around his neck. We cried together.

She didn't make it.

At her funeral, in our sorrow, we found a way to express our love and celebrate the impact of her long life. We remembered sitting on the steps while she told of her travels, pointing at a different salt shaker for every state she'd been in. We marveled at the way she brought life to those around her, even from a wheelchair when she broke a hip and couldn't be her normal bustling self.

God intends every life for good.

I wish today that I could wrap my arms around my brother's neck. I know that I can't make his hurt go away. I don't want to make his hurt go away. But I would sit with him in his sorrow. I would celebrate with him the short life of his stillborn son. And I would help him see how the sorrow in his tears and Cheryle's tears and Mom's tears and Dad's tears and my tears and his friend's tears mingle together to validate that life.

A life that God intends for good.