After texting a dear friend and getting no response, I was concerned, so, I called. He was fine. Later, after our conversation was over, he texted me the following poem.

“Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.”

Mary Elizabeth Frye

I responded with . . .

I know you will be and thank you for the lovely reminder … but you and my dad live by an assumption that because of your age you will predecease (or move on before) me. If there is one thing that is certain in life, it is that nothing is certain.

I live each day deeply moved and immensely grateful for you, my father and other beloveds that sincerely touch me. If you should leave before me, I will cry as I do now because of the privilege of sharing this Life and Love with you.

That’s really what grief is, isn’t it?

Yes, we grieve losses like things we can no longer do with our bodies as we age, but when it comes to a person, it is really about an enlightened realization of the intensity of the Love that continues, or at least it can be.

This is why I can sit in my chair in my office and think about you or other beloveds present or past and cry (with a smile on my face) not from a heart that hurts but from a heart that is full.

This exchange was later followed by a discussion on how the pandemic seems to be stripping away pretense, at least for some. Kindness, goodness, love . . . the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ Paul describes in his letter to the Galatians (5:22-23) . . . seem to be blossoming clearer, richer, deeper.

What we perceive as suffering can lead to this as well.

One of my favorite Bible verses says it this way, from The Passion Translation.

My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! James 1:2

Or . . .

For even if the fig tree doesn’t blossom, and no fruit is on the vines, even if the olive tree fails to produce, and the fields yield no food at all, even if the sheep vanish from the sheep pen, and there are no cows in the stalls; still, I will rejoice in ADONAI, I will take joy in the God of my salvation. ELOHIM Adonai is my strength! He makes me swift and sure-footed as a deer and enables me to stride over my high places. Habakkuk 3: 17-19

Wow, what a paradox!

The extraordinary times in which we are currently living certainly seem to be full of paradoxical circumstances.

Who would have thought three months ago that social distancing and sheltering in place would be a greater expression of love for our fellow man than a warm embrace or meaningful handshake? Or how staying home could so unquestionably demonstrate our connectedness through social media and other technology platforms? How could it be that a quick-spreading virus would so evidently manifest our unity and so clearly blind us to our differences?

And yet the way and light that Jesus IS continues to effortlessly highlight the brilliance of paradox.

Pray for your enemy . . . humble yourself and you will be exalted . . . a servant is greater than his master . . . in giving you receive . . . “whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me”. . . just to name a few seeming contradictions.

Trusting God is to live a life revolutionized by paradox, and therefore lived without pretense.

Martin Luther King, Jr. says it this way . . .

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”