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Archive for October, 2017

Dear sir,

I am writing to you from my wife’s hospital bedside. I have been here for 6 hours now; she has been here for 11. You should know first, she and baby are fine. The doctor required us to stay over night, which amounts to a mild inconvenience given how much greater damage the accident could have caused. I’m sure you have thought of it  as much as I have.

I am not writing to heap guilt on your head though. We each take our own daily risks by getting behind the wheel. In this situation, I’d rather meditate upon the real mercies than the potential tragedies.

If I may be forward, I can’t stop thinkng about you. I see your face. I hear your voice. I see the pain and distress. I know your illness paints a bleak picture of your future. And I, who am not prone to crying, am nearly moved to tears thinking about you.

Please receive some comfort from this letter. I was thinking about our vehicles. They were transformed in an instant from well-functioning, comfortable transport to permenantly disabled, mangled heaps of scrapmetal. They did their job. They protected their drivers and absorbed most of the force of the collision. Later this week, I will drive on this same road, and there will be no memory of this accident. The road will be clear. Thus, we can say that these vehicles became a sort of witnesses to temporality and fragility of our material lives with which you are no doubt already familiar.

The Psalms in several places have verbalized this idea by describing life as a vapor or grass that fades quickly in the wind. Our own experiences echo their “Amens” when we think of how short our lives actually are, how small we are in the history of time, how in end only God’s eternal memory, which has known us fully from the beginning of time, can protect us from the forgetfulness of time.

These witnesses, lying in the road, destroyed and useless, towed away before the hour had passed, only tell half-truths. For we also stood there alive and relatively unharmed. We have value, and God’s divine mercy is a better witness to our worth than worthless vehicles is to worthlessness of life.

For in his mercy, our deepest wounds which neither time nor medicine could not heal, find their healing. Our sorrows and pains find their end in his own sorrow and pain. Our tears are dried by his tears, and his weeping brings us joy.

For in all these things – in the cross -, divine mercy finds its fullest expression, and we find our deepest sense of worth. As I sit here by this hospital bed, memory of that divine mercy moves me to thankfulness and praise.

I’ve lost many things today. I’ve lost time and opportunity. I’ve lost money and possessions. I’ve probably lost some hair from all the worry. But all these things pale in comparison to the appreciation of God’s mercy that I’ve gained today.

Yes, our totaled vehicles bear witness to the brevity and sorrow of our lives, but His blood speaks a better word to us than does the guilt of our consciences and bears a truer witness to the reality of our worth before God than mangled mess of our vehicles.

In her book Lila, Marilynne Robinson writes, “There was no way to abandon guilt, no decent way to disown it. All the tangles and knots of bitterness and desperation and fear had to be pitied. No, better, grace had to fall over them.” Today, God has shown us mercy and that would have been true no matter what happened. I hope that for you, if you haven’t already, I hope you will find rest for soul in the kindness of Jesus Christ. That the same divine mercy which has held onto us today, would hold you as well. And that all of your being including those bits of lasting pain, sorrow, and sin are plunged into depth of God’s grace so that you would be granted assurance of your worth before him.

Warmest sympathies,

Nathaniel

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