Sunday, June 7, 2009

Storms of Life

Tonight, I was reminded of both the beauty and fragility of life.

Facebook is currently feeding me two stories from my friends' lives: the first "is celebrating our one year anniversary;" the other, "is celebrating 55 years." Today, a brother lost a father, and a fellow expat rejoices in her first year of marriage.

Life and Death; Death and Life.

Do I rejoice because he is no longer in pain? I want to. But there is still a dull ache in my heart. I'm hurting for those he left behind. I was hardly close to that family for long, but nonetheless, Chuck never hesitated to take me in as a son. He never hesitated to take in anyone. A true mentor, he spent his life reaching out to others, I have no doubt his passing will show it.

And what is this life-creating thing called marriage? It will be ages until I know it. Two people denying their own rights completely to unite with another completely. So wholely counter-cultural, so entirely foreign to our society, it's truly no wonder why so many don't last. Still others try. They press forward, celebrating the landmarks and facing the storms. Together.

But that's just it. Life will always have storms -- whether faced alone or with others.

In my culture, I fear that some people live their entire lives surrounded by people, yet facing their storms completely alone.


It's the concept that founded the United States; I fear, though, that it may also bring America's downfall. I return to the notion: "No Man is an Island." We are simply not meant to face Life's Storms alone.

I applaud Jon and Steph in their decision to recognize this; their lifelong commitment to Community by default. I pray their decision does not return void, and they live out their years in constant support of each other's conflicts and storms.

Likewise, I celebrate the 55 years of Chuck's life, along with his wife, his sons, and scores of family and friends that surround them now. I have no doubt right now they are being comforted by the life of love and community Chuck built around his family.*

I can't imagine the weight of the loss they now feel. My sincere hope and prayer is that they follow in Chuck's example, and know that - in even this - they do not and will not bear the burden alone.

Life is unexpected and unpredictable. It is full of storms of sorrow, and landmarks of joy. In a word: Life is a Journey.

And the Journey is the Destination.

Wherever you are in your Journey - be it tribulation or celebration - I pray you reach out to someone near you. Remind them, and yourself, the importance of the role they play in your life. Strengthen the community around you, and know they will persist to be there throughout the storms of life.

(*It should be noted that my friend and brother, Jasen - Chuck's son - will be stepping into his own lifelong commitment to Community this Saturday, despite his current situation. Jasen, I love you, and wish I could be there to celebrate with you at the beginning of this new leg of your journey. I can't wait to return and meet Cari, and see your life together.)


Jon and Steph said...

I read this over and over and found myself in tears. Mainly for this family, but also for the realization that life is short and I need to cherish the time I have on a daily basis. Time with my husband, my family and friends.

Thanks for pouring your heart out for us to read.

I will be thinking of your friends in their time of need. My prayers are definitely with them.

Bonnie said...

What a tribute to Chuck. Thank you, not just for pouring your heart out, but for making me think of what really is important - family and friends and our relationship with God.

Thanks for being there this morning, even though it was only through cyberspace - it meant alot to me - when God knits hearts together, nothing, not time or miles, can tear it apart.

I was taught that life is God's tapestry and each thread is represented by the people that touched our lives, the places we've visited, and things, good and bad, that we've gone through. It paints the picture of who we are. Chuck's tapestry is a beautiful picture of a loving family, music, laughter, sailing into the sunset, supporting friends, a house full of teenagers, tennis and a relationship with the Creator of the universe. WOW - we do need to celebrate his 55 years. My tapestry is not finished, but I am very grateful that you are one of it's threads!

Be blessed today.

Don said...

Chase, It is strange the simultaneous events that unfold around us. They do afford the opportunity to reflect, to compare/contrast, and to find unifying meaning. The human experience is a complex one. I remember a Good Friday sermon title I heard once: It's Friday, but Sunday's a comin'!

Thanks for sharing the reflections of your heart.


PS: Lyrics... "See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?"

It boggles the mind, but wins the heart.

floreta said...

beautiful entry. today is also national cancer survivors day and i just ran a 5k for breast cancer.. cancer survivors wore blue hats and we all kneeled down as they remained standing.. i admit, i got a little teary eyed to think of the fragility of life and the good fortune to beat a disease. in one day, my parents got invited to a wedding, a baby shower, and a funeral.. i thought it was interesting to note the different stages of life celebrations. the circle of life. it is very touching and life is beautiful.

Young Traveler said...

Chase, you are a deep well as usual. Life is indeed a storm, but there are rays of sun that always shine through and those who hold your hand throughout.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to what sounds like an amazing man.
The lyrics quoted above, from one of my favorite hymns, ring so true in moments like this...well, life in general. Sorrow and Love walk hand in hand very often it seems. Life moves so quickly from one stage to another...makes the concept of weeping in the night and finding joy in the morning seem so real.
They'll be in my prayers!

Sebastian said...

Just a note, divorce is only a 'major issue' in America where the divorce rate is a lot higher than the rest of the world. It's still high in the 'West', but it varies a lot between countries.

As you say, the concept of independence, every man for himself, , with the whole (ironic?) distancing effect of technology and fast travel thing thrown in... not a recipe for marriage, I guess.

Over in the East, marriage is still all the rage. I wonder how long that'll last :)

Chase said...

@Steph, Thanks for your words, and letting me post this. I'm glad the two of you had a great day, and I am praying for your next year.

@Bonnie, being able to talk to you while writing this was definitely an encouragement. Thank you for sharing your vision of Peace and reminding me of Chuck's community.

@Don, Our Hope is in the Sunday, isn't it? Even on the darkest of Fridays.

@Floreta, That was my experience here. Such a humbling experience to see the stages of life played out at the same time.

@Traveler, that's just it, isn't it? Having those around us to hold our hands helps us stand through the storm.

@Diverse, Thank you for stopping by, and thank you for reminding me that "Joy comes in the morning." So true.

@Seb, I was working largely off of first-hand assumption when I attributed divorce to American Independence, thanks for the confirming input. And I would agree, here in the East, marriage and divorce are treated much differently.

SuzANNE said...

Great post. Very touching, makes you appreciate everything. These few months have definitely been eye-openers for me and I love the fact that you are still so positive and strong in your writing. Always a pleasure meeting on the Drift for fun and for reflection.

Anna Lefler said...

What a sweet and wonderful post, Chase.

You are a gift to the blogosphere.

Be safe...



Rachel said...

I'm glad I finally took the time to read your blog today, and this is one of my favorite posts.

Codi said...

sorry, not about this post.... you found our blog! funny to me since i've been following you from about day 3? how long will you be in taiwan for? any thoughts of staying another year?

we are at a crazy training camp right now. so i'm going to be in trouble.

Lindsay Champion said...

It is so hard to lose a parent, even an honorary one. This week marks the one-year anniversary of my mom's death, making the beginning of summer a similarly bittersweet time for me. Despite this, I feel blessed to be able to experience all of life's changes, just as I'm sure you feel blessed to have known Chuck.

lindsay ||

Lynzi said...

Oh no...