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when the lights are gone

I’m convinced that love finds us, attracted to us as moths to a certain fire, wishes to a star.

Last week was a crazy week. Two ladies in our office lost family members – one a mother, the other a grandmother. And even though the coordination of support isn’t really a part of my job description, I wasn’t surprised that it was a job that found me….. When I hesitated, I was met with a pleading look and the words, ‘but you know what to do’. That wasn’t in reference to the art of ordering flowers or food, but in reference to doing things not out of habit but a deeper understanding of what really matters to most people (regardless of who they are or what it is they think they’ve lost).

I was reminded of how many times over my life I have been asked to pray for someone. Trust me, I don’t have a direct line, but what I say and what I feel are the same. If another hurts, I hurt and so asking for some relief seems easy. When I say, “you never lose love”, it’s not some pat answer for tears. It’s more than what I believe; it’s what I know.

One of my favorite stories about my dad is much the same. He worked at an airbase for most of his life, retiring with more than fifty years in the same little office. He started as a teletype operator right out of the Air Force, and was head of communications when he retired. But he was there during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the base was on the list of potential targets. One day his boss called him in.

“Bob, if something happens, I need you here.”

“I’ll be here.”

“No, you need to promise me.”

“I promise, but you know it doesn’t matter who is here. Tom and Joe are trained the same as I am. Any of us is the same as any other of us.”

“No, Bob, it has to be you.”

My father promised, and as he was leaving, he turned back to look at the Commander.

“Why me? Why do you need me here when you have a full staff of trained technicians?”

“Because if something happens, I want someone here who God will listen to.”

I love that story, but I also love that I’ve come to understand something from many years of listening to my daddy pray. I’ve come to understand that God always listens. The rub is that there are so few people willing to talk. Some strain against the ties of formality and decorum; others against doctrine they know nothing about.

For me, my relationship with God is without limits set by man (or even by words). If I tried to describe it ….well, I’d make it less. I just know that it works. I hum under my breath, and am reminded time (and again) that I am not alone. I am never alone. The heart speaks and I listen. The soul whispers, and I listen.

As far as helping during a time of grief, I know that food speaks louder than flowers, and sometimes the right thing to say is easier than we think. “Tell me about your mama.” Our arms are never filled enough, and the heart that remembers only (ever) to love will find its place……….and those with need to mend will find it as well.

Love. It’s not just something we do.

. . .

what is now
we’ve come to find
endearing as the heart
to swell
as oceans
once a tear began
love returned
the soul to home
another life
to tell

. . .