Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Fog Unlifted

I had an other-worldly experience driving to work today. It was like being submersed in an Ansel Adams photograph. The fog was really heavy - giving everything this spooky, soft, wispy look. The tree branches stretched out like skinny arms, and everything was shrouded in white cotton clouds.

It was SO cool!

There I was, driving to work in this ethereal world, sipping my recent purchase of a Panera hot chocolate listening to Alan Jackson’s rich voice sing beautiful old hymns. It felt great, almost like a waking dream. I sang along to Blessed Assurance, Everlasting Arms, and I Come to the Garden Alone (which always makes me cry and think of Aunt Kathy – she and my Uncle Scott used to sing that song together at people’s funerals).

As I was driving, I though about that old Native American phrase – “Today is a good day to die.” The first time I heard that phrase I thought it was morbid and pictured writhing savages spitting out the phrase on their dying breath in the midst of tribal war.

Later, I learned my perception was wrong. The phrase was used when a person felt like everything was going right in their lives - that they were, in fact, at the peak of their lives. The reasoning being that they could die while everything was right with the world.

As Christians, we are supposed to live every day in the present, since we don’t know when the Lord will return or when our time on this earth will come to an end. As I drove on in the fog I thought about today being a good day to die. If my sip of hot chocolate was the last thing I tasted, if I died in that moment. I pictured my car lifting up and driving to heaven, like that car in Grease.

I felt happy picturing myself driving up through the fog to heaven. I thought about seeing my dad again and Brett’s mom. I imagined the loving arms of Jesus wrapped around me and his whispering, “Welcome home, my child.”

I’d see my Aunt Kathy singing in the heavenly choir. Streets of gold, star studded mansions, saints on every corner, and a mighty sky I can barely imagine.

I snapped back to earth at the next red light, after a zooming yellow Mustang cut me off. I drove the rest of the way to work contemplating. I don’t think about death all that often, but ever since Dad died unexpectedly, I do think about it. I think of myself as finite and fragile and life as something to be treasured but also held loosely. We don’t know the number of years, months, days, hours, or minutes in our lives. And we don’t have to. He does.

I’m 28 years old and there are a lot of things I want to accomplish yet. There are a great many things I’m thankful for – people, things, and experiences in my life. But Dad’s death taught me that “our times are in His hands.”

God willing, I live for a great many more years, but (rapture not withholding) if not, today is a good day to die.

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