The Way Forward

Tim McGraw released a song in 2004 that started with these lyrics:

“He said I was in my early 40’s, with a lot of life before me, And a moment came that stopped me on a dime.  I spent most of the next days, lookin’ at the x-rays, Talkin’ ’bout the options and talkin’ bout sweet time.  Asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end.  How’s it hit ya, when you get that kind of news.   Man what ya do.  And he says…”

No, Theresa did not go skydiving, or ride a bull name Fumanchu.  But she did get dressed up and take Ryan to see Kung Fu Panda 3.  As humans, we only have one way to go and

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that is forward.  There is no rewind, no reboot…No matter how much I wish there was.  The only way to proceed is to move forward.

The second Saturday of the Great Fast is the 2nd All-Souls Divine Liturgy in the Eastern church.  As Eastern Christians, we pray for those who have gone before us 5 times during the Triodion and Paschal season.  I served the Divine Liturgy this morning and standing a few feet away from the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist..Christ present in the sacramental mystery, I had so many thoughts running through my head.

I thought of a co-worker, Pete, who set out for a family beach vacation in July 2015 with his wife and 4 children…ages 18 to 8.  While driving through West Texas, the tire blew on their SUV, causing it to flip over many times.  In an instant, he lost his wife, daughter 18 and sons 14 and 11.  He and his 8 year old survived the crash.

I thought of 6 people killed in an instant by Jared Loughner in 2011.  I remembered being given the task of finding the family of Gabe Zimmerman and notifying them that he had been killed.  We had bad information on the drivers license and we finally located his residence he shared with his fiance.  Neighbors told us she was with his parents in another part of town.  We finally found the house and went inside.  There were family members all throughout the house, at least 40 people.  And I was there to confirm their worst fears.

I heard the words we sing at the end of the Great Fast pre-sanctified liturgy: “Having suffered the passion for us, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy, have mercy, have mercy on us.”

I thought of a Lenten parish mission I heard several years ago when the priest uttered these words:  “We know not the date or hour”.

And finally, I thought of the words of St. John Chrysostom in his well known homily at Pascha: “O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?  Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.  Christ is risen and the demons are fallen.  Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.  Christ is risen, and life reigns.  Christ is risen and not one dead remains in the grave.  For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.  To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages.”

What do you do when you get that kind of news?  You go forward, in faith and love.  You choose to live and enjoy all the time you have…be that many or few.  I choose to believe it will be many, blessed years.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!

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