Gathering Together

I have no idea what I’m going to end up writing.  I just know that I must write.

This past Saturday, we woke up to a white courtyard.  Snow-covered everything.  The boys squealed and begged to go outside to throw snowballs at each other.  We wanted to acquiesce especially because snowfall would soon turn into rainfall but we had a big day ahead and we could not afford to be late.

We were headed to the memorial service of our friends’ beloved newborn son.  The dramatic weather conditions were appropriate for this loss.  I felt like the Earth was dealing with this loss by coughing up its own fury and tears, all kinds of snow and rain to mark this final goodbye as we carefully braved the highway to see our friends.

FALL DOWN HARDER, I thought to myself.

I will always wonder what Baby ______ is doing in heaven whenever I see snow.

However, this is not my story to tell.  All I can add is that we were blessed by our friends’ hearts and honest expression of love and grief.  And their hope in Jesus Christ while STILL IN THE FIRE.

We then drove in the rain to NJ to celebrate another friend’s baby’s 1st birthday in Korean doljanchi feast fashion.  From there, we drove on to another friend’s house for our annual Christmas sleepover and got to meet their new bundle of joy, all cheeks and eyelashes.

We were able to show the kids the hustle and bustle of a NJ mall the week before Christmas, a Christmas light spectacular, and adult friendship.   You kids don’t have a monopoly on playdates!

While I was experiencing heartbreak for my friend in the morning, and then suddenly flung into celebration mode with our other friends, my friend in CA, whose wedding I was missing that very day, sent me photos of her pre-wedding prep.  I was so thrilled for her as she is overcoming some health issues.

Funeral – Korean 1st bday celebration – meeting a new baby – wedding.

Life can be a devastating beast, a real heartbreaker, a bone crusher.  Life can also be beautiful and enthralling, rendering me speechless as I hold a precious baby or watch the kids’ faces light up when Santa and his entourage are escorted in on firetrucks.

Our friend shared Psalm 102 and Psalm 103 at the memorial service. Psalm 102 is a prayer of an afflicted man, when he is faint and pours out his lament before the Lord.  In stark contrast, Psalm 103 is a praise.  Life is both – weeping and gnashing of teeth as well as lifting our hands in praise.

Psalm 102:1-2 (NIV):  “Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you.  Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.  Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.”

Psalm 103:1-5 (NIV):  “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Like I said, I don’t know what I am trying to express.  I just felt somewhat comforted by the fact that whether we were mourning or celebrating, people had gathered together so that our friends did not have to be alone.  Of course there are times for solitude and reflection, but I am glad that there was this gift of gathering together, for people who care, people who want to cry with you or delight with you.

You never have to be alone while you still have breath in your lungs.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  – Romans 12:15 (NIV)

“And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”  – Matthew 18:20 (The Message)