Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hope endures.

Her bare feet met the soft gravel of that road called Forest Drive, the remnant warmth of the last day of summer's sun lacing each step, as the memories of yesteryear flooded her eyes with those familiar tears of longing quietude and tender grief. And like the Earth, the leaves, a somber gold, her heart beat with each step, as memories of those golden years still wrung with such sweetness and brazen light. Though indeed, those leaves may fall, and the sun may grow distant and cold, the Promise remains, of fortitude, of beauty -defiant- and grace. All that is fallen and torn, fades. And that which is golden, falls away, it seems...but with each step in time, the warmth yet impinges that which will become so graven, and hope endures. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014



This is my home. This is where my memories are. This place, I treasure so deeply. I've been away...Away from this place...this place I hold so dear and love so richly. Yet, I have also had a distance from the many, many reminders and sources of great heartache...

And with this distance, perspective...

In this process, I have sensed the parallels of this life and eternity. The great longing for home.

It is hard to stand, and truly, fully fathom all that has unfolded in this life, thus far. I could attempt to pen it, but to ponder the great feat that this alone would be, in fully articulating all of its intricacies...indeed, it is a divine and loving Artist and Creator who is truly writing this story. I state this, at first, reflecting upon the sorrows and the losses and the deep pain...but sensing how, it is yet so echoed by a depth of sweetness, life, defiant joy, and unspeakable beauty. There is love. Great, insurmountable love, in the wake of sorrow. And that is Eternal.

Today, I walked a road I have walked so many, many times before...but this walk was unlike any other...

I walked around my yard, that yard I've wandered 'round and explored with such great joy, since the age of 6... I gazed at the trees and their leaves, turning to gold, as the summer fades to autumn...three years, it's been, since I've witnessed such a glorious turning in my dear Minnesota.

I saw the home...the garage, ajar, like so many, many days before. And I found my feet, as they had in those days of old, those childhood days, make their way toward it as if it were a beacon. But he wasn't there, though I wished he was...and it suddenly, washed over me, and the tears, then came. For it is hard for me to fathom, that those days are gone. And I'm not ready. I am not ready yet...perhaps, one day I will be. But not today.

And so, as I wept for which I have not yet had the opportunity to comprehend in such a way, I walked onward, to that dirt road. A whitetail deer, the only witness, as its tail flared and it fled to the sanctuary of the forested hill, where he and I and my sister had once walked together. I gazed at the tiny ditch, tears falling in memory and longing, and I smiled warmly, remembering the time he had pulled out my car when it had slid to an immovable halt in the deep Minnesota winter's ice and snow so many years ago.

All the times I had walked that path, he in his garage or in his yard. And we would speak, and we would laugh. And as I gaze through the lens of my memories, I realize and I bask in the sacredness of those moments we shared.

I walked further down that lovely road called Forest Drive, absorbing the blueness of the sky, the tallness of the trees, and the hues of green and gold, red and orange which melted into a symphony of grand beauty. My feet were bare, but the gravel was soft and still warm from the last day of summer's sun. I treaded onward, and came to the home of dear neighbors, whom I had not seen for many years.

And it was wonderful. And there was such love there, such and kindness. Fullness. They've known me since I was that newly-turned-six-year-old all those years ago.

I wish to live here again. "Where my beginnings are." There is yet, so much to sort through, much more than I can comprehend in a moment.

Years must unfold before I comprehend much of it...but I still sense this resonance...this great beauty, this great and imperceptible beauty that is present.

I do not think I will fully comprehend until that day which is Promised, the Day in which He wipes away every tear and makes all things new. All things new. The Day in which we are truly, Home.

It's strange to comprehend, that today I saw their old home, as well. It has been over two years, and that next day, I departed for Washington. In a sense, I would like to chronicle my thoughts and heart-impressions at this very moment. So many moments are so very simple as they unfold, yet, indeed, have a vast depth and sanctity to them, when our perspective is different...

It is like Home...and I'm still trying to comprehend it and articulate it.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Chronicle of Grief...yet, Hope endures :: An Entry from Early Winter, 2014

The past few years had brought much pain. Surely joy, as well, but I can not deny that the weariness and deep grief was greatly abiding. I sometimes wish I could forget, but I must be honest with myself and with these experiences that life has delivered. I must, in order that I may grow and acknowledge all that has passed. I must in order to heal.

I am often tempted to feel as if I should "move on". However, I am reminded that I must be patient and gentle with myself. There is no way to fully reconcile with all that has happened, unless I allow the abiding grief to be what it is. I do not attempt to "move on", for I have come to despise that phrase immensely. I have learned that this grief of mine does not define me, nor encompass my being. It simply is a natural pathway along which I must proceed in order to make sense of this present reality. One loss is incredibly challenging. Four years of enduring multiple losses, surely takes its toll. I have to remember that, especially in those moments when it seems all so raw, once more.

I do not understand why so many dear loved ones were lost in such a succession. I do not understand why the reality of tragedy struck me so hard. It is however, the way in which these past few years have unfolded. I loved deeply, and deeply so, I lost. But the loss is temporary, while the love, I am comforted, is Eternal.

He will wipe away every tear... - from Revelation 21:4

This Promise is what has upheld me in these years, especially in the moments when another loss has struck me.

Indeed, each time another loss has come, it has uprooted every other source of grief...and the sorrow, compounded. Certainly, with that most recent loss, it resulted in a cascade of immense bereavement for every loved one. Every loved one I had previously lost, fought to sustain their own life, while this dear friend, took his own. There is a sadness and a unique darkness to this, that I don't have words for. It struck me far harder than I could have ever anticipated. I pray that I will see him again. I pray that he has peace. I have to accept that I'll never have an answer for this. The ache for this loss is unique, and I have often felt disenfranchised in the midst of it. Exceedingly lonely and dark.

Many a time, I have felt deeply lonely and isolated by the emotions that comprise such loss. Days are darkened and dampened. People ask you how you are, just as a pleasantry usually, and all that can be mustered usually, is "I'm okay".

In the midst of grief, it can sometimes feel like you will never feel more than 'okay' ever again. Your whole world has changed. Sometimes you feel upset that the world goes on, while all you want is for it to just slow down. Sometimes you find it difficult to remember details. Sometimes you forget your keys, and it just sets you off, and tears and grief spill out in frustration. There are moments of anger, moments in which you deny that this person is really gone, and you expect to see them in the grocery store, or on the street. There are moments when you long so deeply to talk to them, to hug them, to hold their hand again, and you feel this enormous empty place in your heart. There may be times when you wonder if they ever knew how much they really meant to you, and your heart is filled with a complex assortment of regret, guilt, and shame.

Sometimes, grief is masked as anger and impatience with one another, when the loss is shared among family and loved ones. Each loss is unique, and each individual's response to a loss is unique, just as every relationship and every person is unique. Individuals sift through the sands of grief and loss in their own individual way. It is important to have grace for one another in such times. The smallest things can sometimes trigger a whole cascade of grief. Sometimes we have to learn to identify those triggers, and accept them, as frustrating and often inconvenient as they can be.

There have been times when I have wondered what the appropriate Christian response to grief and change and sorrow really is. There have been moments in which I have felt shame for hurting still.

There have been times when I have felt pressure to conform to the "Joy" of being a Christian. There have been times when I have been embittered by these questions.

There have been moments when the ignorance and insensitivity of well-meaning, but poor-comforters (much like those poor-comforters in the Book of Job) has deeply discouraged me, angered me, and caused me to wonder how it is that one can truly comfort a soul that is aching.

Those poor-comforters, I have found, are often at such a loss for what to say, that they mistakenly stumble, utter empty platitudes, or subconsciously express their impatience, because, truly, they do long to help, and they wish that they could make their friend feel better. However, in such a realm of pain and loss, bandages simply do not suffice. The wounds are deeper than just a surface cut, and they require tender care. I have learned to try to see the intent behind such stumblings. Grief is so difficult, and people often do not know what to say or do. In that way, it can be exceedingly lonely and isolating.

I have learned, in the midst of all of this, that God is the greatest Comforter. It is said in scripture that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, sent by the Father, in the name of the Son. The Holy Trinity. I have expounded upon all of this, in previous writings. It is profound, the Comfort and Goodness, and Tenderness of the Lord. There is so much more I wish to say, but often it seems, there comes a point in which I must stop. There's only so much I can handle to express at one time, for I become overwhelmed with the weight of it all.

I wish to always finish with expressing the hope laden within all of this sorrow. For it is greater, He is greater than all of this pain and suffering.

Monday, May 26, 2014

An Entry from early Winter, 2014

In those days, joy was abundant and seemingly un-fleeting. Of course, there were tears then, and sorrow. There was brokenness, for that is the reality of the world in which we live, for now, as we wait for that blessed Promise.

But the love I knew was a child, was such a beautiful reflection of that blessed Promise. It it almost a mystery, hard to fathom, like a fable or a fairy-tale, the echo of longing, a resonance...for Redemption's story is written and woven into our own stories, into the fabric of this Earth.

To recompense all that has been lost in these days,  all that has been lost, but yet remains Eternal...I must recall those days of youth. Those days of warmth, love, security, safety, comfort, and utmost joy. Indeed, there was much dross amidst all this gold, for we are broken people upon a fallen, broken world...but in the End, all that shall remain shall be that which is golden.

I do not know where to begin. Honestly. Every relationship is so unique, graced with joy and sweetness, not saccharine, but sacred. Perhaps I can only describe each in abstract ways, to begin. Each relationship is its own novel. There are those who I only knew as a child, and those I knew and who knew me, for the duration of my life. There were those, like Terry, who brought such joy and love and laughter and goodness. There were those who I knew only briefly, but graced and blessed my life with their presence and embrace, and marked me tremendously with their kindness and wisdom. I know not where to begin.

So much happened so quickly, far more that I could perceive, more than one person can take in from moment-to-moment.

And in such a way, a human is brought to the core of who one is, who one will be, and to the core of everything one had once understood about life and stability and relationships, what is and what was.

Right now, and lately, I think the biggest thing I have been learning to overcome, is all of the shame that builds with circumstances like that. Imperceptible experiences such as what I have witnessed and experienced and known.

My close friend marveled to me the vastness and depth of my story. That even after knowing me for a year and a half, and being roommates for several months, and for all that I have shared, there is so much that she yet does not know and has not heard.

From November 2009 to this past year of 2014, grief has been a nearly constant companion. To assign such simple terms to it such as this, simply stating the duration of time, feels unjustifiably concise. Yet, it is also, as time has passed, refreshing, as I begin to understand it as a season I have journeyed through, rather than a neverending road of deep, deep sorrow and heartache.

And for now, this is where I must end...having the courage to know what happened, to know that it has impacted and inflicted and affected me deeply, to have compassion for myself in the midst of it and honor the emotions that come, as they come, and to hold to the Promises of Eternity.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

From April 4

This summer, I recall it being exceedingly lonely. The days were hot, they were long, and they were saturated in a distinct and wearying heaviness.

I can not believe the amount of pain and confusion I waded through. All the while, working to earn my Master's degree. Learning to research. Learning so much.

Learning so much about myself. About my own resilience. My own perseverance. My own tenacity.

And the goodness of God...the Eternal kindness and comfort of God...And the hope that endures in the midst of such great darkness. I see it in my writings. My refusal to give up hope. And His Grace to uphold me in the midst of such great darkness, such great, deep pain.

Such loneliness. Such isolation. And then, a friend. A church. Many friends. A prayer answered. A prayer answered in waves and in so many many facets of that prayer answered. Such kindness...

I am overwhelmed by His Kindness. God is a Good, Good God. His Kindness abounds. And as these years have delivered tragedy. As the pain has surmounted and the sorrow and grief has cascaded as a rain so torrential...

The depth of that great Kindness, that Eternal Kindness, I have known to the very depths of my sorrow.

And He is Good. He is my Friend. He leads me onward. He leads me on. He cares for me. He holds me. He holds me by the hand...

and leads me on.

And I am astounded. By His Sweetness. Kindness. Grace. Holiness.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What I Carry With Me

I wish to write, in order to memorialize those loved ones who have departed from this world. I wish to use words and phrases to embody and to express all that these people meant to me. That will be my next task. To understand just what I carry with me, though they are gone and we are apart, what they have imparted to me in the days and years that they were a part of my growing up.

TB: I was so blessed, so very blessed to know him, to have him in my life when I was a child. He brought so much joy and laughter to our lives. He always made me feel so safe.

Many of my fondest memories of childhood were with him. I remember, when he passed so suddenly, I would lie awake at night, cascades of memories going through my mind, as tears would fall. There were so many. He was such a part of our daily lives. He was just always there, on his lawn mower, working out in the yard on various tasks.

I would ride my bike up and down the driveway, and stop and talk to him. He had a way of letting us know that we were uniquely special to him. I guess I didn't realize that so much, until he was gone. I often look upon the past with rose-colored glasses, too. But he brought and light and warmth to our lives that was so special.

When I worked at the pre-school, it was really a neat and precious time of life. I had just experienced another Christmas that was scathingly difficult. Being around those precious hearts was comforting. I could pour out my love and appreciation and tenderness to them. We could play, and laugh, and read stories. He was there in that...the teaching, the loving, the support and kindness.

I want to teach someday. As I teach here and next academic quarter, I want to carry that with  me. That richness and depth of life. A longing to impart and to help others understand complex and difficult problems. He helped me understand algebra. Distributing, logarithms, piece-wise functions. Those were my favorites, and they still are. I want to carry that forward as I teach others, as I work with kids, as I work with young adults, too.

As I continually work through the trauma and the complex grief and bereavement of these past few years, I know I will continue to draw meaning and depth from these painful circumstances. Life is so rich. Yes, there is so, so much pain. But, there is so much joy and love, too. And hope. Such deep hope. Beyond the overwhelming load of grief that I bear, there is a gladness, hope, and joy...and that is the Eternal. That is what I hold to. In Christ Jesus, I have the deepest hope...and onward on this journey, I will go.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Journal Entry

They had us do a 'mindfulness' exercise.

I had flashbacks to the funerals.

We were to seek the present, where we are in this present moment. But each present moment, has imprints of the past.

This was the first time that I thought of the cold January day. That cold January day one year, was another cold January day the next. His funeral. Her departure. Her last breath.

I moved to Washington. I decided to pursue my dream of igneous petrology. I am doing that. I hope that I can finish this. Work hard, despite the copious time to think...too much time to think.

I have an exciting future ahead of me. I do. I look forward to it. I am so thankful for the depth of love I have known.

But this heart has been torn. Deeply. These eyes have seen pain at a depth that is more than I can comprehend.

He will wipe away every tear. One day, all of this sorrow will be washed away. And the joy of that moment, I can scarcely dream of.

For now, I walk on. I long to comfort others, love others, show them Christ, and live these days that I have to their very fullest. Like my loved ones did.

I have to take this from a logical standpoint. The very fabric of all that I understood life to be was completely torn from beneath me. Before I had a moment to adjust, it happened again. And again. And again. And I moved away. And again. And then...the way he took his own life...

In the flashback, I was at my Grandpa's visitation. Funeral clothes on. In the funeral home. Helgeson's. I remember how I touched his hand, how I didn't want to leave him there alone for the night. And how Judy commented how sweet I was to love him so.

That was in the middle of all of this. When he went Home. His loss seemed natural. He was ready. He got to dance with Grandma again.

And the flashback went to Terry. Seeing him in the casket at his visitation. The funeral, the next day, how Grandma was there. How I thought, in the back of my mind. "Please, may this be many, many years before I have to face this for you." I had two years at that point. I don't know what I would have done without her. I think it helped me to be unafraid to let her know just how much she meant to me. Terry, I don't think he ever knew...I guess, at least, that was one of the hardest things about losing him. But someone recently reassured me that just as his presence in my life meant volumes to me, so my presence in his life brought him great joy...

That joy will continue into Eternity. For that, I have great hope.

This is not the end.

Losing Josh. That turned everything upside down. My mind went to her. But it only could stay there for so long. That one is really deep. Her visitation and funeral. I remember then, I felt really alone. Whenever we had family gatherings, she was always there to let me know that she loved me. How to even explain it. She just always let me know I wasn't alone.

My heart is just overwhelmed with heartache. There is so much Joy. Eternal, Eternal JOY. But there is also trauma, there has been a shaking to the very foundation of everything I've ever understood.

But you know. He holds us. Yes, I have encountered grief so deeply. So resolutely, I have refused to let it destroy me. I have refused to let myself succumb to bitterness and to close myself off emotionally.

That takes courage. The courage that often goes unnoticed. It is the kind of courage that is Christ-like. There are Eternal purposes at work here, that I can not even comprehend.

I could expound upon how unworthy I am to receive such a gift... I really could. But it goes deeper than that. There's a story in the midst of my own personal story. Redemption. Rescue. Renewal. Hope.

Like Mt. St. Helens, so much life springing forth from such great destruction. Volcanoes. It astounds me how that great dream of mine, to be an igneous petrologist, crosses paths with that Great Glory.

The Lord has led me, every step. And He will lead me onward, still.

Yes, my heart aches, tremendously. It will likely be a few years yet before I feel an established sense of normalcy and stability. Yet, seasons of life such as this past four years will surely come again.

This life is brief. In the midst of Eternity, it is but a breath. Right now, it is important for me to reconcile with all of this pain of this past, all of the joy, all of the love. Because, life is not the same anymore. Tremendously blessed. To know so many dear loved ones. I will be together with them again, one day.

For now, I wish to pursue my career as a professional in geology. Finish my Master's Degree, work in the field for some time. Perhaps, one day, if I feel inclined, pursue that PhD. To be close to those lifelong friends I have made, to family that has always been there. To bring Christ's comfort, love, and grace into this world as He would lead me to. To honor those loved ones that have departed with a life lived deeply and fully.

Like when I stood in the doorway of the basement in Grandma and Grandpa's house. Near the bathroom, near his workshop. "Grandp(m)a, I will live each and every day to it's fullest. I promise you. I will work hard and try my best..." To love, like he did.

[There was a type-o above, with the m there. Nearly a decade later, I stood there, remembering that moment I had as a 12-year-old. Reflecting upon how pure and unafflicted my heart was then. Still, a child, but beginning to understand and comprehend that such joy and love is disrupted, indeed, by the crippling thing that is death and loss and separation. And then standing there, closer to 22, reflecting how I could hold to that promise, still, in a world so dark and cold.]

Grandma and Dorothy. As I graduated from MSUM...Terry. The moment grandma gave me that beautiful music box and, with a heavy heart, knowing that she would not be there to see it...that as I go onward with my future, I will do well, I will do great things. Going down to visit Dorothy, talking about rocks. Grandpa would have loved to know what I was doing.

One day, we will talk about it. We'll go fishing and laugh and smile and eat pancakes and watch the hummingbirds and the orioles. Walk with Jesus. There are these dreams in my heart...

For now, I am a pilgrim. A sojourner in this strange, dark world. For all the joy I have known here, it will be complete in that Heaven home.