The call came early Monday morning. My colleague had suffered a stroke, so stated his wife. And then another problem--a heart problem--surgery needed. "But he's too weak after the stroke to undergo surgery, so we'll have to wait for several weeks." I felt devastated. Carl and I have worked together for over 15 years. He is the "Frick" to my "Frack" (of NPR's "Car Talk"). He can tell what kind of day I'm having by the sound of my clicking pumps in the hallway. I know what all his nonverbals mean. We are like brother and sister. I was freefalling without him.
Then that next morning. Nine precious people massacred in a church by a 21-year-old white supremist. The church is just five miles from my house. I felt numb inside. When could we get a grip on all the gun violence? And that Confederate flag--just seems time to bring it down amidst all the shame it brings to our state and country. I was freefalling with no parachute.
The last few days I have been roaming around in my life in a daze, having fallen hard from these losses. And they are secondary losses to me. I didn't have a stroke. My loved one wasn't murdered. And yet I can't shake the grief--my eyes welling up with tears over and over and over.
This morning I finally took a walk. When I gazed up at the sky, a cloud formation looked like a gigantic hand--long cloud fingers in the heavens. I sensed the Lord saying that He was covering the city with His warm palm of protection and mercy--that He wanted me to focus on turning to Him in my pain--to let His peace wash over me--to let His grace sustain me--to believe that He could bring healing to this tragedy that so ripped up His own heart. And so I kept walking. At the tidal creek I saw in the brackish waters some crab pincers that fishermen had left. If you've never seen a blue crab, they have two distinct colors on their pincers--a vivid periwinke and a deep orange red. I thought of those two colors--the symbol of blue heaven meeting red earth. I thought the colors stood for how much we needed--I needed--heaven to meet me in my pain--meet the citizens of Charleston during this sorrowful time.
And I do pray, "God in heaven, may we know your presence now. May the Prince of Peace rule in our hearts. Hold us close. Gather us near. Heal my colleague and those dear people who buried loved ones gone too soon. Remove the hatred from the heart of the gunman. Rest your palm upon our heads."