This morning I reached for my Bible to read Luke 18. I had left it in the car - darn! I was too lazy to walk out to the car (hey, Sunday's a day of rest, right?), so I looked for another Bible and saw Diane's on our living room shelf, where it had been since before she died.
Opening it, I noticed a yellow "sticky note" bookmark. Believe it or not, Diane had left the bookmark in Luke 18! And even better, she underlined and highlighted key phrases and wrote notes in the margin. The rest of the New Testament was untouched, not so much as a jot or a tittle.
Well, Mama Page didn't raise no fools. Clearly this blessing was meant for today. In the margin of the Parable of the Persistent Widow, Diane notes that Luke's verb for "wear me out" in v. 5 is "in Greek a boxing term - black and blue under the eye." This is practical prayer advice. The smart boxer keeps pounding his opponent's eyes until they swell shut and he can't fight anymore. The prayer warrior just keeps pounding away - and the Devil gets the black eye! Diane wrote, "Always pray. Don't give up!" Thanks, Honeylamb! I will, and I won't.
In verse 8 she underlined and highlighted the "when" of "when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" And above it this direct note: "not if, when." Her implied message: believe, pray and live knowing that the Great Reunion is "not if, when."
And finally she was moved by the story of the blind beggar who persisted in asking Jesus to have mercy on him, even as others were trying to "shush" him. Funny thing about chronic illness or any other suffering that others don't understand - after a while, they don't want to hear it. Enough's enough, you've had your say, accept your lot and don't bother the Master (or us) any longer with these things. But the beggar was still blind and he wanted to see. And when Jesus finally asked, "what do you want me to do for you?," he told him directly: "Lord, I want to see." And in words underlined and highlighted with pointy arrows by Diane, Jesus answered his prayer: "Receive your sight."
Irish satirist Jonathan Swift ("Gulliver's Travels"), 1667 - 1745, was the first famous person to write "there are none so blind as those who believe they can see." O to see my own need as clearly as did that beggar! Then I might ask God if I cause little ones to sin by, say, being a little too chummy with the Hollywood corruption machine. Or by failing to support Third World poor people or even buy Fair Trade coffee, and thus contributing to the final, desperate resort of the impoverished, which is child prostitution. Or by not speaking God's liberating truth when the Spirit leads. And finally Lord reveal to these sometimes blind and bitter eyes your blessings amid the pain and loss.
In church this morning I was reminded to the point of tears about an earlier heartbreak that turned out rather well - wonderfully well, in fact. We were singing "Hallelujah, What A Savior!" and when we got to the line, "even when my heart is breaking" I couldn't go on. In a flash I remembered Mother's Day, 1992. The car was packed and right after church Tim, Diane and I were heading down to Philadelphia, PA to meet our new baby girl, whom we had named "Helen". Right before leaving for church we got the word - the birth mother had changed our mind. No baby for the Pages. On Mother's Day. I was scheduled to lead hymns that Sunday, and when we got to "even when my heart is breaking" I broke down on the podium, muttered something about what happened and raced off to the men's room for a long cry. I was both heartbroken and embarassed. What up, God? I can't see what you're up to.
Several months later, we became parents to Joe, who even at two weeks was so happy that he made everyone around him happy too. He has been an unmixed blessing of love and joy ever since. This weekend Joe won an Award for Excellence in Acting at the 2011 Vermont Regional One Act Festival, and was also accepted to study at St. Michaels College.
"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5). Now do you see, my son?
* "G, D" does not refer to guitar chords or "gosh darn." From this point anytime the blog is about grief, I will put G in the title; if Diane is mentioned, I will put D. This should be helpful if I ever decide to write about Diane in depth.