Empty places

Grief became to her like breathing; she couldn't rise or go to sleep without the pressing feel of it against her heart, the weight of it like a suitcase she didn't know how to unpack. ~Karen White, On Folly Beach

The holiday season descends and with it the joy of the circle of family. Empty seats hover like ghosts - we don't set them, but they are there, in our hearts, as we look around at the beloved faces and the mind constructs a list of those gone now for this season. I read that some people set the places, an empty chair, a plate never dirtied; I wonder if those people know better how to unpack the suitcase of grief, that they can stare it in the eyes at the dinner table.

The circle of life continues though we resist the gravity of time's passing. I wonder, too, at God's wisdom that He empties and fills the pitcher at the same well, that we of finite passions could not possibly hold all the love for all those we lose and all we gain. Yet do the loves we lose ever really vanish, or is it the lacework on the tablecloth of life, the beauty around the edges that pulls hard at the heartstrings? The last lingering refrain of a song so plaintive we close our eyes hard against the joy and the still deeper pain of hearing the notes?

God is personal but also propositional; beyond our knowledge, and yet we can know (Ephesians 3:19). Human life is not a test of worthiness or a vale of suffering we must somehow rise above. It's a quest, and creation is a mystery - both in the wonder-full sense and in the Agatha Christie sense: a marvelous work, and a problem with a solution. ~from Janie B. Cheaney's August 14th article in World