Magic and Loss
There's a verse from the Hebrew Scriptures that came to my mind today---a line from the book of Job that goes like this: "...the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
It needs to be said that this line is spoken by Job who has this notion about the way God works that is pretty jacked up. That's a theological term, by the way... "jacked up."
In fact, there's a good bit of the book of Job that is jacked up, especially the beginning---the part of the story where God and the ha Satan (The Accuser) make a wager about whether Job will lose faith as bad things happen to him.
Job doesn't lose faith exactly, but he does seem to think that God is up to something odd. God gives. God takes. That's how it works, right?
Not really. Because when God does show up in the story of Job, God offers no explanations, no apologies, no theological treatises...
God just says, "I'm God... You're not. This isn't about giving or taking. Things happen in this world sometimes. You need to trust that even when things are bad that I've got this... no matter what."
Let me explain this a bit differently...
Saturday we took down all of the Christmas decorations and cleaned the house stem to stern.
After I wrote that last line, I decided to look up the etymology of the phrase "stem to stern" and discovered it meant from the very front of a ship to its very end, or the stern. I then decided that phrase summed up exactly the kind of cleaning we gave to our house.
Not only did we pack up roughly twenty-three storage boxes full of holiday decorations and cheer, but we also went through closets, cupboards, nooks, and crannies---ultimately hauling away a pickup truck load of unwanted items to Goodwill. Furniture was dusted, polished, and gussied up. The carpet was cleaned and vacuumed, rugs washed... you name it.
When all was said and done, I took a look around at the spotless nature of things and the decided lack of Christmas decor, and I sighed and said to myself "It's like it never happened."
I stood there for a moment remembering how wonderful it was to put up all of the decorations, to festoon the house with holiday magic--recalling fond memories of Christmases past, and the joys they brought us. And I was suddenly filled with a wistful longing, and a secret wish to turn back time just for a while...
The other day I wrote down a line from an interview Lou Reed did before he died, and when I read it again today it resonated with me so much. Here it is:
There is a bit of magic
And a bit of loss
To even things out…
And a bit of loss
To even things out…
To be fair, having a clean house is kind of awesome. But I couldn't shake the feeling of loss and the sadness that came with it. There is a bit of magic in everything, and there is also loss... You will have both in your life, for sure.
And hear this word of warning... The losses will want to fill your mind and your memory. The losses will want to demand more of you. The losses will want to bring you down and leave you sitting on the ashes of what was left.
But if you can lift your head and fix your gaze above the ruin of what was, you will learn something important that just might save you.
You see, there is magic in everything... goodness everywhere... beauty all around you... holiness underneath the ash... resurrection in the glory-filled air you breathe...
It's always there, and it has always been there. Open the eyes of your heart and you will find the clarity of vision that you need to truly see it all. And once you do, you won't forget---it will hold on to you more tightly than the vision of your losses ever could.
May this be so for you today and every day forward. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.