This beautiful life


Her palm quivers across horseflesh and an age-old ache awakes deep in my heart.  This life is so beautiful.  It seems too beautiful to ever leave.


I watch a friend walk over the last threshold of childhood and into a bright and indefinable unknown, and a shiver of cold and loneliness sweeps over me as she is bathed in the beautiful light of evening.


She smiles a smile that you can only smile when you are young, and alive in your skin, and stretching your arms in flight for the first time.  The light catches my eye and sends a prism shooting, a millisecond of glorified sunbeam that sparkles like a jewel off this beautiful piece of sod, high on the hills, up in the late summer wind with the moist smells of horses and hay and apples floating on the evening breeze.


A whisper between girl and horse falls through the shaft of light around the corner of the aging barn.  It's gray bones a silent reminder in a harvest-time moment of fullness and promise and beauty, and the ache grows deeper.


I have been so tired the last few days.  It is one of those seasons of a long battle when you would almost rather give up the fight than keep fighting.  All the beauty that surrounds as autumn approaches is like the poisoned apple proffered Cinderella, the sadistic lie of Life, that promises an everlasting horizon of entertainment and beauty instead of the slow sink into eternity as bones grow old and crippled and sore and tired.


Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"- before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; and those looking through the windows grow dim; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.

Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.  (from Ecclesiastes 12)


I remember my Creator, I quake sometimes, in awe of Him.  In awe of an awesome God who first gives us a beautiful creation we are loathe to leave, and then promises, if we believe, to perfect that beauty for all eternity.  As the yellow late summer sun strains through the kelly green of the grass, the barn crumbles, and the dogs shiver in the cool evening shade, I stand with my arms outstretched to a heaven I cannot imagine and do not want to go to now.  I see, in one moment of this achingly beautiful life, that I do not and cannot understand what it means to walk this mortal clod nor what it entails to leave it.

This week has been a week of contemplating, again, death.  Leave-takings.  My last grandparent gone.  A friend from the internet writes that she naps all day long, how her hours grow shorter as she approaches the final days of her 10 year battle with cancer.  A young man, my age, grows visibly weaker every Sunday in the back rows of church, spotted with cancer and hunched in a wheelchair.  My own body is weak now, either from infection or cancer meds that have gotten out of balance again.  I spend long hours on the couch and bed.  Mocked by the dishes in the sink, the dirt on the floor, the mounds of summer clothes that must again (endlessly, this twice a year task comes) be sorted into bins and organized before the air chills further.  I sit at my computer for a few hours today, and sigh as I peer through a pink bed sheet haphazardly strung up against the strong late summer sun of eventide, where a curtain should have been hung years ago.