Thursday 30 November 2006

November 2006 - Death and Suffering, Life and Love

The first frosts, later than usual, have cut down the dahlias in the autumn border, and the tender salvias I failed to bring in. Their skeletons stand black and rotting where flowers so recently danced like bright hoors, to remind me of the fate of all created things, myself included, and all those I love.

And murder has been done on the wilderness path. A sad sprinkling of chaffinch feathers among the fallen leaves the only clue for CSI: I suspect the sparrow hawk, but a visiting cat might equally be the culprit.

Feet suddenly chilled in green wellies, I stop and stare, reaching inward to touch dark fears and anxieties. Tim, the father of two darling grandsons, lies in intensive care after surgery to replace a defective heart valve. For two years since diagnosis, we have known this time would come. We have watched his energy falter until he could no longer work, while the doctors monitored his condition, waiting for the time to be right. I so much admire Tim and my daughter for their fortitude and good sense facing this slow-building crisis, and how they have lovingly prepared their family for it. We are told his prognosis is good, and we pray that this will be so. But why, oh why, did our loving father God allow this suffering to fall on such a fine young man and his young family in what should be the prime of his life?

I cannot answer this question, perhaps the most difficult one there is; no more than anyone else can. It is clear that death and suffering go hand in hand with life and joy in this wonderful world we are a part of. CS Lewis suggests in his book The Problem of Pain that perhaps God could not have created one without the other: our freedom to respond to God’s outpouring love may depend upon it. Whatever the truth, we do know that Jesus shared our human suffering, and I believe he shows us how to make it holy.

The gardener knows that what seems like death in winter yields to new life in spring. The red leafless twigs of the limes in the alley already bear fat red buds. The daffodil bulbs I dug up by mistake already sprout white roots underground. And I know that Susanna’s beautifully tidied labyrinth beds will throw up another crop of annual weeds demanding yet more hoeing next year. The cycle of life and love will continue!

1 comment:

lu & Tim said...

your well thought out and beautifully crafted words show us how much you care and support us during this time. Perhaps, for us in swansea, our spring has already started to show, with each new day bringing increasing optimism, following what feels like a horribly long winter. I was told a rather nice chinese proverb which has stuck with me and makes me smile and should, i feel, be passed on. "You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from passing over your head, but you can prevent their making a nest in your hair".