This has been a heavy week. This happens from time to time, where the darkness seems to be winning. When the clouds get so thick and heavy that it completely blocks out the sun. It can be overwhelming. And if you let it, defeating.
Two young men from Laguna died this week, separately. I still don’t have all the details. One I didn’t know but spent some time this week with his family. And the other I knew well. He was a previous student in my youth ministry. In fact, I’ve had a card from him sitting on my desk that I received a year ago. Sweet words of his growth and gratitude that reveal the rich depth of his heart.
“Your words and grace have influenced me for the better.” “You have given me a gift and I took it. After receiving it, I have felt inspired.”
Rereading his words brings both comfort and an ache. I know he’s in a better place.
And yet this week has not been without glimmers of joy and beauty. I paddled out with dear friends last night, surfing in warm water and enjoying that beautiful calm at the end of the day. I love those times of meaningful conversation while floating, interrupted briefly by the set waves and then the paddle back out. Afterwards we sat in their backyard, playing ping pong, throwing bags, and savoring summer. I felt so lucky.
Somehow, life seems to hold out both goodness and grief all at once. Almost out of necessity. And the two have this way of speaking into each other. Reframing each other.
The grief reminds us just how costly it is to love. It is what we risk when we vulnerably expose our hearts. And heartache is unavoidably intertwined with intimacy. In a way, it signifies that we are living well.
And the joy we experience in selflessly loving another is worth the pain we experience in their loss. Because joy is what gives life its rich texture. These moments of connection pull us into the present. They fill our lives with depth and meaning. They fill our hearts with gratitude.
Our pain gives context to the beauty, and the beauty gives meaning to the pain. It is mysterious, and, at times, feels more than we can bear. But the beauty assures us that there is a deep “okayness” beyond this world (to quote Rohr). And so we cling to the good. We follow the good to its source. And are, there, reminded that the sun is still shining beyond the clouds.