Recently I marked the 8 year anniversary of my father's death. Earlier this summer was the 12 year anniversary of my mother's death. It is hard to believe that it has been so long. I think about them often as I watch Miranda grow and try to imagine what it would be like to share her with them. Honestly, this has been the hardest part of coming to grips with their deaths. In a way it is kind of like the final frontier of grief, wanting so desperately to proudly introduce them to my daughter but knowing that that will never happen, at least not in this life. Anyhow, I can't complain about my life, am deeply thankful for it, and share these things only because it provides the proper context for something that I want to celebrate. I actually shared this last night at our fellowship meeting and felt like I needed to likewise share it in this broader format. Last night we were asked to give thanks for people in our lives who (among other things) have given us reason to be thankful and appreciative about the gift of life even though that gift can sometimes feel more like an affliction. During the meeting I shared that I was deeply thankful for the way in which Paul Espy (Sherry's father, who comes to visit periodically) has greeted me during his last two visits. Last night, before the meeting, Paul again came up to me and said, with a hug, "Hello son, how are you doing?" It was a very simple question, easily uttered, but for someone like me there are few things that could have a more profound and far-reaching impact. I am so thankful to be a part of this broken community where we imperfectly practice our faith as family, try to help care for one another's children, and share our homes with each other and other's in sometimes questionable and even dangerous ways. This way of life has begun to have a small but growing impact far beyond our geographical borders and anything that we could ever quantify or claim-praise God! And it is because of this slow but incessant Spirit inspired influence and exchange of life that I can know someone like Dr. Espy, and in knowing realize that God hears the prayers that I cannot utter and responds in ways that I can never anticipate.
"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home (John 19:25-27).