They are a gorgeous couple. She is young and beautiful, her dark hair in a ponytail, pulled through the back of her pink hat. Tall and handsome, he’s leaning in, his arm securely around her waist. And they are smiling. They are my friend’s brother and sister-in-law. They just finished Race For The Cure. They found out just weeks ago that she has breast cancer. She is just 35. I studied the picture for some time. I’m 35 too. If it was my body being silently ravaged and my mortality flaunted before me, could I smile like that? And what if it were Blair, or one of the kids? I choose me.
Dallas Willard expresses so beautifully the thoughts he had after the birth of their first child”…I painfully realized that this incredibly beautiful little creature we had brought into the world was utterly separate from me and that there was nothing I could do that would shelter him from his aloneness before time, brutal events, the meanness of other human beings, his own wrong choices, the decay of his own body, and finally, death.” (My guess is that the vast majority of new dads are just overwhelmed by the fact that their wife is a superhero in a backless hospital gown, but that doesn’t make for much waxing philosophical so I’m grateful for Willard’s deeper thinking.)
He goes on, “It simply is not within human capacity to care effectively for others in the depths of their life and being, or even to be with them in finality, no matter how much we may care about them. If we could only really be with them that would be almost enough, we think. But we cannot, at least in a way that would satisfy us. For all of us the words of the old song are true: ‘You must go there by yourself’. And that would be the last word on the subject, but for God. He is able to penetrate and intertwine himself within the fibers of the human self in such a way that those who are enveloped in his loving companionship will never be alone.”
It’s watching from the car as your six-year old baby crosses the street, backpack bobbing. It’s helping your college freshman son get settled in his dorm room, halfway across the country. It’s an all-night drive to bring your newly-separated and devastated daughter home. It’s holding your wife’s hand in the oncologists’s office. And then, at the edge of the precipice of our own limits, God’s limitlessness emerges. Hope. Eternal.