Monday, September 29, 2008

Honoring the Season

For a couple of weeks I had been gathering pictures and composing paragraphs in my mind for another post. They were all about Katherine's new tricks; the simple pleasure I derived from finding rich, finished compost at the bottom of my compost pile; the nice meals we enjoyed with the Northens who travel up and down the Mekong on a medical ship (; and preparations for our new school year.

Then Hawk Sie drowned and I was stuck. How could I, on one day, describe the Cambodian funeral of a 9 year-old boy and the circumstances surrounding his death, and then a few days later say, "Here's a picture of Katherine doing something cute. And here's a picture of the cucumbers in my garden...." In other words, to state by my actions the cold and flippant cliche that I hate: "Life goes on."

I hate it because it seems to be delivered as an injunction to get over it, forget about it, and go on about your business. As if to say, "Life goes on, and it's the same as before." Or, "Life goes on, and I'm the same as before."

Obviously life does go on. The Holocost happened, the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides happened, the World Wars, civil wars... not to mention the evils individuals perpetrate on one another. And yet others survive to live and move, the sun rises, the rain falls, and the time comes for another season under heaven.

The problem I have about "going on with life" is that I don't want to be the same as before. My baby is still growing, I'm still teaching and cooking dinner and going to church and pulling weeds.... My life is the same, but I don't want my heart to be.

And what about sorrow? How can my heart be so painfully crushed one day, and so light and satisfied on another? It's as if being happy today invalidates the sorrow I felt yesterday. If I can "get over it" and be happy today, I should have been able to yesterday. Or, if my sorrow was truly impenetrable yesterday, it should stand equally firm today. But that is not the nature of life. It would be ridiculous to say that working with an arm today invalidates the pain of a break two months ago, therefore I'll no longer work with that arm.

While "whatever God does endures forever," my life is conducted in a seasonal realm; as God's eternal decrees are revealed to me in time, I must respond appropriately for the season. Just as it would be inappropriate for me to dress for battle during peacetime, it is perhaps even dishonoring to God for me to cling to sorrow during a season of His gifts of joy and pleasure.

So I'll tell you about Hawk Sie's funeral. And in the future, Lord willing, I'll tell you about our joys and trials, the mundane and the exceptional, as each in its season is revealed in our lives.



Hal Brunson said...


Am I missing something about a child's drowning?


Anonymous said...

Jenn...I know what you are feeling. I may have shared this with you this summer. Two very dear friends of our family have cancer and watching there pain has been so hard for me. Our family has been so blessed this year and it seems those around us are going through so many difficult trails. It has been hard for me to rejoice in God’s blessings because it's seems wrong. I’ll be praying you and Hawk’s family. I love you! Lis