On September 21, 2010, one of the dearest people I will ever know slipped into heaven. She was my grandmother, a gift and a blessing to me from God for twenty-two years. In the days prior to her passing, I made a regular pilgrimage to this memorial bench, located a short walk away from where she lay dying. It was my place of solitude. My peaceful retreat. Here, I asked myself many questions and contemplated the meaning of what her death would be like. All of the emotions, all of the feelings poured out. It was an escape. A painful escape.
Two years later, I went back. I came once more to this bench which signified so much to me. This time, I was not mourning her impending death but the farewell to her home and everything in it. Loss.
Walking up the hill to my quiet space of prayer, I couldn't help but think how much I had changed in two years' time. Sitting there, I looked out at the hills, green with the promise of Spring. Before, the fading colors of fall blended into the coolness of winter. All the time, all I could see was the ending. The stopping of one season with no way of seeing the next. Empty beginning. Useless. Dead. Time would roll on, but how? Why should it?
Now, I could begin to believe in the start. The hope of renewal. The blessing of redemption. Change was bringing life. As I gazed on the sun-kissed grass of the golf course below, as I watched the golfers zip around in their golf carts, tee off, drive on to the next hole, I thought of how we cannot freeze time. We cannot capture and hold the present moment forever. Present turns to past too quickly. Something is always ceasing so that another can start. Today becomes yesterday in the blink of an eye. How do we get used to this cycle? How do we reconcile ourselves to the fact that this coming and going will always be with us? Always. I took in the scene below. Remember.
Arising from the bench, I walked down toward the tennis courts. These were the sight of so many of my grandma's matches. A playful soul to the very end, this had been an important part of her life. They were silent today, a cruel reminder of what was. Not what is today. Strolling over to the massive Buckeye trees beside them, I gave in to the urge to climb into their huge branches. Just like by-gone days. Child-like days. Fingering a Buckeye seed in my hands, I realized that I needed to let go. To stop holding on to the faint hope of what could've been and accept that which is now. Remember.
After spending some reflective moments, I pulled out my phone and began to take some pictures. The tennis courts. The trees. Even the little bench on the hill above. Remember.
Trudging back, I once more walked up to see it: place of healing, place of Grace, of a beginning found in an end. Hope. Eternal hope. I took more pictures. I savored the moment. Wind blowing gently on my face, I knew God was there. He had taught me gain through loss, life through death. Remember.
Turning away, I stopped to bend down and look at the daffodils. They were new and alive. Fresh. After lying dormant in the dark earth, now they were a burst of color and a sign of hope. The start of another season. So is my soul. Surviving the darkness of its own pain, it is now arising to meet the One which called it into its Spring. A new season. A new chapter. Change. Good-bye to the old, welcome to the new. We are forever in such a state. The cycle is part of life and will be always.
One more picture. This is the journey of my heart. Move on, but remember. Bench, trees, flowers. This forever-perpetuation cycle is filled with pain yet seasoned with Grace. The sun still shines on all that is both old and new. I walk away. I go back to enter the uncertainty. But I am resolved to savor the now. Because that is all I have. Remember. Worship. And let go.