A circle’s sharp edge

bokeh-388354_1920She is living a life rich with deep pain as well as joy beyond measure. She is beloved by many, to some a friend, to others a mentor, editor, coach, cheerleader. She is a fierce advocate for what she knows is right and fights against racism, bias, and hatred in every way she can.

Recently, this friend of mine wrote about her grandmother with great tenderness …

As I sit here with [my son] asleep on my chest, I’m holding my grandmother … close to my heart. She is in the final days of her life here on earth, and while we will miss her, we are grateful she will no longer suffer. Please pray for Grandma – for her comfort in all ways, for her continued excitement about meeting God, and for her to know how deeply she is loved.

The next morning, we got the news … “Grandma died peacefully in her sleep at 6:45. Thank you for the prayers and kind words.”

Good golly, Miss Molly – so, so hard.

I struggled to put more than I’m sorry into words.

As I reflected on her recent brushes with both birth and death, first of life and end of life, I hummed a little of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Circle of Life:

It’s the circle of life
And it moves us all through despair and hope,
Through faith and love,
Till we find our place on the path unwinding
In the circle…
The circle of life

We speak reverently of the circle when we witness the wonders of birth and death – as we celebrate and mourn, remembering and just getting to know.

We wait impatiently to hold the tiny ones, shedding tears of joy at their arrival.

We wait patiently as loved ones slip away, shedding tears of both sorrow and relief.

But the circle of life is not simply when we are born and when we die. It is more about what happens between our first breath and our last. Traveling through joy and sorrow, we complete a bit of the circle each day.

And these, my lovelies, are the parts of the circle I thought of as my friend held her little boy, whispering memories of her grandmother, someone he will know only through stories told by those who loved her.

But during times of loss, the circle of life isn’t smooth and round. On these days, the edges of the circle seem thinner, sharper, more harsh. There may be a place on its circumference where a tiny point juts out unexpectedly, serving up small portions of hurt or grief, reminders of what is gone or what is hard.

This circle of life is continuous and unwavering. It pays no mind to the “who’s who” or dollar signs. While it is blind to the pain of loss,  it cannot share the joy of welcoming new life. It’s just a circle.

Sometimes its edges are sharp and raw.

Sometimes, curved and smooth and beautiful.

I find myself a bit lost as I search for my place on “the path unwinding in the circle of life.” As a grown woman and grandmom, when I thought I would be at my best and strongest, again and again I run up against roadblocks and disappointments. I’m convinced I know the way only to discover that I’ve misunderstood the directions or misread the signs. 

I continue to search for my path but get cut on the edges of the circle that seem thinner, sharper, more harsh. I stub my toe where a tiny point juts out unexpectedly, serving up small portions of hurt or grief, reminders that I got it wrong again.

But whether I am wounded and bruised or bright and shiny, I hold on to God. Whether, like my friend, I hold the promise of new life or endure the heartache of death, I know very well that Jesus loves me. I know it. I believe it.

For those who do not share this faith, I know it’s almost impossible to understand, let alone believe. I know it may seem foolish to trust in Someone you cannot see and Who does not always give you answers. I get it.

But for me the alternative, believing in nothing but myself – or in mysterious cosmic forces that have no regard for me or mine – is the true leap of faith. For me, knowing that there is Someone who does see the whole circle – including my own path, treacherous as it may be – gives me comfort and courage.

Yes – I don’t have all the answers. I stub my toe, I run into roadblocks, I face disappointment. I don’t have the answers.

But I know My Redeemer is Faithful and True.

As I look back on the road I’ve travelled,
I see so many times He carried me through;
And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my life,
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
Everything He has said He will do,
And every morning His mercies are new.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
My heart rejoices when I read the promise
‘There is a place I am preparing for you.’
I know someday I’ll see my Lord face to face,
‘Cause my Redeemer is faithful and true.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
And in every situation He has proved His love to me;
When I lack the understanding, He gives more grace to me.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
Everything He has said He will do,
And every morning His mercies are new.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
Songwriters: James Isaac Elliott / Steven Curtis Chapman

 

 

 

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