Have you ever been reading a novel, suddenly stopped, put the book down, and then taken a few minutes to think about what you just read? This happened to me a couple of weeks ago…actually on July 4 before I headed over to John and Mandy’s for the July Fourth family celebration and the ‘revealing’ of Walsh and Mollie’s latest addition.
One thing about this humid, hot, oppressive July is that it has kept me inside more than usual and I have spent that time reading, reading, reading. You might remember I shared this book with you (at the beginning of the summer) that Jackson selected to open their first book club meeting with this fall.
She, also, suggested it to me to read and I ordered it from Amazon.com… but while waiting I started another book. So it took a few days before I was finished with the first novel and was ready to start this one.
When I got to one section of the book, I stood up and then sat back down to absorb it mentally and emotionally…I called Jackson to tell her what I was experiencing and she warned me to just wait…there were more “miracles” to come. I have concluded that like GodWinks miracles don’t just belong to one person…they affect a circle of people whose lives revolve around the initial miracle recipient.
I am going to try really hard not to give anything definitive away in a blurb I am going to share with you but I just could not…not share it in case you never read the book.
Let’s just say that a terrible tragedy has hit a well-respected and popular pastor’s family in a small town in Minnesota. The pastor has decided to go ahead, however, and preach the sermon that following Sunday…only days after this personal horrific catastrophe.
The story is being told through the eyes and memories of Frank (the oldest son -13- at the time of the tragedy) forty years later. He remembers his mother and little brother could not emotionally attend the church service that Sunday. He, himself, doesn’t know how his father, with deep dark circles under his eyes, looking like he has aged two decades in a lapse of days, is going to get through the service.
Perhaps that is why ( as Frank remembered) that he attended that Sunday or perhaps it was because his father promised him that somehow, someway something good would come of all this…a miracle of sorts.
The church was packed to the hilt…probably due to more curiosity than anything, though certainly mixed with empathy for the likable pastor. Frank was surprised when his father stood in front of the congregation with no notes or papers…only his voice to guide him through the sermon.
Shaky at first with long moments of struggling to control his emotions, Frank’s father suddenly stops and takes a big gulp of air as if trying to find enough air to keep him alive. Frank is terrified his father isn’t going to make it through the sermon and stares down at the floor.
But then…the words begin to flow into sentences, which in turn flowed into paragraphs that somehow transcended time that long-ago summer morning. Frank witnessed the miracle his father had promised.
(Here is one small excerpt from this sermon/service)
…”When we feel abandoned, alone, and lost, what’s left to us? What do I have, what do you have, what do any of us have left except the overpowering temptation to rail against God and to blame him for the dark night into which he’s led us, to blame him for our misery, to blame him and cry out against him for not caring? What’s left to us when that which we love most has been taken.”
” I will tell you what’s left, three profound blessings…Saint Paul tells us exactly what they are: Faith, Hope, and Love. These gifts, which are the foundation of eternity, God has given to us and he’s given us complete control over them. Even in the darkest night, it’s still within our power to hold to faith. We can still embrace hope. And although we may ourselves feel unloved we can still stand steadfast in our love for others and for God. All this is in our control. God gave us these gifts and he does not take them back. It is we who choose to discard them.”
“In your dark night, I urge you to hold to your faith. to embrace hope, and to bear your love before you like a burning candle, for I promise that it will light your way.”
“And whether you believe in miracles or not…I can guarantee that you will experience one. It may not be the miracle you’re prayed for. God probably won’t undo what’s been done. The miracle is this: that you will rise in the morning and be able to see again the startling beauty of the day…”
…”I invite you, my brothers and sisters, to rejoice with me in the divine grace of the Lord and in the beauty of this morning, which he has given us.”
My father’s eyes swept over the congregants who filled the pews silent as dandelions with upturned faces. He smiled and said “Amen.”
“I left the church that morning feeling, as I do to this day, that I had experienced a miracle, the one promised by my father who had spoken a truth profound and simple.”
(But as Jackson warned me…the best is yet to come..another miracle is brewing that changes the family forever. This is a book you won’t forget easily.)
So until tomorrow…Frank’s father’s sermon reminds us that courage and bravery often come in the form of a small, whispered voice in the deep darkness of night, that asks us to remember to say and act upon… “I will try again tomorrow.” It is a new day with a clean slate and new possibilities.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
*I once heard a counselor say that an important sign in healing over the loss of a loved one comes in the form of renewed appreciation and fascination for the beauty of a new day…a sunrise of colors beyond the imagination. When we can, once again, give thanks for the beauty of the earth… soulful peace returns.
And speaking of a new day…Mandy called and asked me over to have supper at their house last evening…W.T. and Joan (John’s parents) were in town from Huntsville, Alabama. It was so great to see them again…it had been a couple of years and was so much fun catching up.
As I walked by a side table in the den…there was a frame with this saying…a GodWink.
Jakie loves his granddaddy…and Eva Cate loved doing all kinds of girl things with Joan (BeBe) Their visit is too short but so glad I got to be a part of it.