I'll post pictures later, but wanted to check in as vacation comes to a close. Tomorrow my son and I will fly to Fairbanks, and then home to Seattle. Labor Day weekend was a wonderful time of rest with friends and family in the mountains, and on Monday my son and I were off to Alaska.
As good as the travels were, the week has been subdued, tainted even, by the reality of a great loss, a young man whose wedding I performed years ago who died of cancer, leaving his wife, and 4 children under 6 years old. He died today, just as I was descending off a mountain on the outskirts of Anchorage through wind and fog. Somehow, the fog seemed appropriate this week as metaphor for so much that is life: a glimpse of glory through answered prayer and gifts of beauty and intimacy, friendship and laughter, and then the fog rolls in. God's presence becomes muted, distant, and we wonder what, if anything we actually saw, when we thought we saw clearly. Yet we hold on to the memories and the memories become the stuff of faith, of hope.
My friend took a nasty turn very quickly, and what appeared to be the road to recovery suddenly became the pathway of heartache and loss. His last words to his family were imploring them to make certain that his children would know Christ, as he wouldn't be around to raise them.
The loss, the fog, the uncertainty - these things effect us all differently. For some, they cling the more tightly to the hand of the shepherd. For others, they give Him the finger and walk away, never to return. Others conclude that there is no shepherd. Others weep, but fling themselves into the arms of the shepherd as a wounded child runs to her mother. I think Jesus longs for the latter... if we'll let him care for us.
Lord, as I return to everything, I'm wrung out with the juxtaposition of beauty and loss, hope and confusion, longings and longings denied, laughter and tears. May you be shepherd, father, friend... as the leaves turn and another season of life awaits. Amen...