Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Tree Grows Through It

I apologize for not blogging any more than I did in July, but getting my feet on the ground at Buford Street has been more time consuming than I imagined. There are plenty of good people and a dedicated staff, so my adjustment time should not be overbearing.

Yesterday, Kathy and I went to Asbury Hills to pick up two of our sons. In addition to a wonderful summer camp for United Methodist Youth, it is a great place for a family reunion or a personal Sabbath retreat. One of my most endearing memories of Asbury Hills is from Thanksgiving 2006 when our family gathered there for the holiday. Although we did not know it at the time, that was my brother Eric’s last Thanksgiving and really the last time our entire extended family gathered in one place to share a traditional family holiday. It was a cool Thanksgiving morning, but warmed as the day progressed. Eric had just been discharged from the hospital the previous day and was not quite at a 100%, but he made the most of the day and our time together.

Many of the family went down by the stream to throw rocks in the water or just hear the roar of the mountain-fresh stream. Most family gatherings involve a camera, and that day was no exception. Eric and I made our way to a nearby bridge and posed for a picture there. That picture is found to the right of this column. It is a wonderful moment for me digitally frozen in time. Unfortunately, that moment would not last. Eric held his own for a while but steadily declined by Easter. On May 6, 2007, Eric died from complications of lung cancer.

Going back to Asbury Hills brings back memories as well as hope for the future. Yesterday, I passed by the bridge in the picture. Things have changed in the 20 months since the picture was taken. It looks like a small tree is growing between where the camera was and where Eric and I stood on the bridge. Time does have a way of moving forward.

Seeing the bridge and picture site reminded me of one of my favorite movies of all time A River Runs Through It. It is the story of a Presbyterian Minister and his two sons in the beautiful scenery of Montana. As the story moves, and the three men move through life (often in different directions), it is the fishing along the river that unites the three. Ultimately, the river and the fishing are not enough to keep life from moving forward to the tragic end of one of the sons. As the movie closes, the surviving son fishes the river in his old age, remembering his dead loved ones but living forward.

Moving through the months since Eric’s death has not always been easy. The picture has been a reminder of him and of that special time. There have been months of moving on and past his last days (a time of living forward), punctuated by days of remembering all that was and mourning all that might have been. The new tree next to the stream at the picture site reminds me that time does move on, leaving us with memories and no way to freeze the past to re-live again, but also with a growing, emerging hope. It is the special hope for all of us who mourn loved ones and lost futures that a tree does grow and that we too can also grow past our brokenness with God’s help.

A tree grows in that special place now. A tree which grows stronger as it moves farther away from a sunny day of a certain November. May God bless us as we grow in similar ways.


Brian said...

care to venture at a prediction for the game Aug. 30th? As long as the Calvinists win, I don't care.

I've got my blog up and running again, would love for you and Kathy to stop by!

Brian said...

by the way, I like your blog too.

Questing Parson said...

"living forward." Powerful!