I woke up to a cold house. Shivering despite being in a warm robe, I knew something was wrong. The temperature gauge showed a cold 58 and lowering. No heat came from the vents. The furnace was clearly not functioning.
“Could one more thing go wrong?” I thought. Which, of course, is a foolish thought. Yes. Absolutely. A lot more could go wrong. We could have another death. We could have another tragedy. That’s the thing about life – the horrid and tragic things that could happen are limitless. If it were not for grace, why would any of us want to get up in the morning?
And yet – there it is – the last best word one writer called it – Grace.
There is grace. There is hope. There is incredible beauty. There is laughter. There is resurrection. And there always has been.
It’s only been in the past 75 years that life became easy for so many. It wasn’t until the 1940s that wide-spread use of antibiotics became possible, helping people who would have previously died fight infection. It’s been in the last 100 years that we have seen massive advances in infant mortality and morbidity rates, changing the landscape of maternal child health. It was only 102 years ago that the last world-wide flu pandemic killed millions. But even then, there was grace. Even then people lived and loved, laughed and hoped, longed for restoration and resurrection.
Growing up in Pakistan I was introduced at an early age to food rations, no running hot water, no flush toilets, diseases like malaria, dysentery, hepatitis, malnutrition, blackouts, curfews, war, tragedy, and death. While Pakistan was far more than these things, living there meant I was not isolated from many of the things that my peers in the west never experienced. I am not a stranger to the uncomfortable, irritating, and sometimes tragic things of life.
And yet, when I met with a cold house and malfunctioning furnace, I still asked “Why?” I still questioned what else could go wrong.
And then the tears came. First hesitantly and then, when they realized they met with no resistance, they rushed to the surface.
Like so many in today’s world, I don’t know what I’m doing. All that I held dear, all that I planned, all that I worked for earlier feels as though it is no longer a reality. I cried and cried and cried. I didn’t hold back worrying that someone would see or hear these tears. That’s the thing about grieving alone – you don’t will yourself to stop for fear you will be misunderstood, you don’t try to compose yourself. You let the waves of grief move over you, like waves over the sand.
I cried that my brother left us all behind. I cried for my sister-in-law. I cried for my niece and nephew. I cried for my mom, grieving the loss of a child. I cried for all of us who knew and loved this remarkable man. I cried for the suffering around the world – Italy, India, Spain, Pakistan, the United States. I cried for all the people who have become statistics on a sophisticated, computer-programmed map. I cried for morgues that are too full and hospital staff that are too stressed. I cried for the refugees and those who are displaced. I cried for the world.
I don’t know how long I cried. It really didn’t matter. After a while, my sobs subsided, my breathing slowed and I sat still, taking it all in. Nothing had changed, but everything was different.
And then I got up and did what had to be done. Shower. Emails. Meetings. Curriculum development. More meetings.
The rhythm of life in the midst of quarantine. The rhythm of grace.
This is not the end This is not the end of this We will open our eyes wide, wider This is not our last This is not our last breath We will open our mouths wide, wider And you know you’ll be alright Oh and you know you’ll be alright This is not the end This is not the end of us We will shine like the stars bright, brighterGungor