Cemeteries have an uncanny ability to zip the lips of the optimist. And the younger the deceased, the more mute the optimist becomes.
As if it weren’t enough that a monumental solar eclipse is one week away, the world is abuzz with ominous predictions of a looming nuclear war with North Korea. None of us might live to unwrap our Christmas presents this year. We might all be blown to smithereens. We might all die in nasty, horrible ways. The world might end in one gigantic kaboom.
Someone was once asked to pen a six-word novel.
They wrote: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
Many, including me, could have written those sad, six words.
The hardest thing to believe is not that God has simply been there for all eternity, before clocks and pelicans and stars winking from galaxies away.
The only person who named God in the Old Testament was an unmarried, pregnant refugee. A woman on the run. A slave with zero rights. An outsider who was the victim of an old man and old woman who took advantage of her young womb to make a child they could claim as their own.
There are parts of the Bible I don’t like to read. No, it’s not the boring genealogies. Or the staccato proverbs. These parts are different. They don’t put me to sleep; they awaken within my conscience a beast I prefer to let slumber. The more I read them, the more he growls. Bares his teeth. Roars.
Bones, bones, everywhere and not a drop of blood, not an inch of skin, not a gasp of breath. Just bones. Just the dried out remains of a life that once was lived but now is not. Tell me, son of man, can these bones live?
When I was in my early teens, a firework exploded in my face. It burned my eyes and blackened them with powder. I thought I was blind. I was afraid that I would never again see my mom and dad, mountains and sunsets, fast cars and beautiful women. The millions of sights that cross before our eyes would vanish. I would see darkness alone.
She was putting on her wedding dress when his letter arrived. It was twenty minutes till nine. The day, the hour, and the minute that were to cast a pall over the remainder of her life. The man to whom she had given her heart, whom she dared to trust, had raped her joy and skulked away. She stood broken before the altar.
In my family room is a tree that whispers to me a secret story about Christmas. It is arrayed with colorful lights, festooned with shiny ornaments. But no matter how bright and beautiful we decorate it, the tree whispers to me its darker, secret story.