I am writing this while in flight to Mexico. This trip was unplanned, like so many things these past several months. Our family has close friends south of the border. Last summer, we adventured to their hometown in our minivan. I did not anticipate returning so soon. I am going back to say farewell to my Mexican mother, to her ashes, and to grieve in solidarity with my Mexican family there. She passed away recently, suddenly, due to health complications. None of us anticipated this loss happening now.
As my flight lifted off the runway at BWI, I noticed the weather was an odd sort of overcast. Lots of humidity hung in the air and low, small clouds slowly made their way along at various intervals in the sky. Sometimes the sun broke through, fully, then partly, and then was hidden. The light was filtering through some of these clouds, and from our vantage point in the air at takeoff, still rising in altitude, sunbeams made their way down from high above. Some of them managed to make it all the way to the ground below. Others, tangled in gatherings of humidity, stopped part way down. From up here I could see these small beams of light, but from the ground below, they were blocked.
In a few moments, everything was lost in the greyness of a layer of clouds as our plane continued to gain altitude. Outside the window, the view of the ground below was completely lost. Even the wing of the plane began to disappear in the fog. This was only temporary, of course. When we broke through this scattered layer of overcast, we were finally above all the weather, and could continue our journey with the sun shining. The clouds were below us now; it was easy to see their shapes, their layers, their intricacies. On the earth far below, the sky was likely dull.
It struck me just how very much like life, and death, this climb to altitude was. Somewhere, up there, or out there, or wherever heaven actually exists, I suspect everything is clear and definitive, like traveling above the clouds. You can see the bigger picture, the lay of the land, the journey, the map. The grey fog we see from our earth-perspective makes sense up there, finally. We won’t be stuck in the dimension of time like we are here.
My Mexican mother, for that is what she was to me, another mother, is finally outside of time. She loved Christ and sought to serve the Lord. I don’t doubt I will see her again, when I too am residing in eternity without this mortal body. Until then, my body is stuck in earth-time and tends to see life from the vantage point of earth. How often do we forget that what we are seeing, experiencing, and feeling is not the whole picture? It is so easy to get lost in the grey and stormy weather of the season – in the muddled fog of it all – and forget that from above, the storm is temporary. From above, it is easy to see its trajectory, to see the way in which God will bring us through it; help us navigate the long road. But at times, here, it feels like an impossibility.
To a certain extent, we cannot solve our earth-perspective problem. We weren’t created to know everything nor understand everything while in this mortal box, our body. We can’t see the details of the future from our point on the timeline.
For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
Now I know in part,
but then I will know fully,
as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
But when Christ came to bridge the gap between our imperfect sinfulness and a holy God, he also gave us the Holy Spirit and spiritual insight. We have a taste of our eternal destiny, we are eternal spirits, and we should walk in spiritual victory to the highest extent possible. And sometimes, God does reveal things to us. And sometimes, he doesn’t.
I personally am not a big believer in “Why God?” questions. Why did this happen? I don’t think it’s wrong to ask for direction or insight. I don’t even think it’s wrong to ask “Why?” In situations like this, where I have lost someone before their time on earth should have been over, it seems, I do not ask why. This planet is fading. It’s fallen. This place is imperfect. Life on earth comes with tragedy and loss, and it is hard. Some days, and some seasons, it is very, very hard. I do not ask what God’s will is. I think he makes it clear in the Bible that he always wants life, health, and peace for us. I trust that if I need an explanation, I will get one. But I do not dwell on why. For now, I trust. I trust that he is good.
Today I grieve the loss of someone I loved dearly. I am fully thankful to the Lord for the beautiful memories we have shared over the last decade and more. I rejoice that she is in heaven and that we will see each other again. But I mourn for the many years between now and then that we will be separated. There were more beautiful memories to make here on earth with her, but these opportunities are now gone. I mourn this loss. I simultaneously appreciate and accept the eternal perspective, while grieving and acknowledging the difficulties of living through loss here on earth.
I appreciate you so much. You were another mother to me. I learned many things from you and your culture. I do not regret for one moment the resources we invested in travel so that we could spend time with you in Mexico on various occasions. I am grateful we were able to do so. I am sorry that your hopes of visiting Pennsylvania will not be fulfilled. I hope and believe that we brought some of the best parts of our state to you via our friendship. I am a better person because of you. Thank you for your unending hospitality, your humor, your ever-present smile, and your continual support of my personal endeavors. Thank you for sending your children to America where I was able to build relationships with them and thus come to know you and your husband. Thank you for serving Christ and being a person of light to those around you. I, and many others, mourn our loss of you, while we rejoice that you reside with God.
With love and gratitude until we meet again,
Your American daughter, Cathy