Monday, October 01, 2007

A Strangely Beautiful Light - Ann's Story Ch. One

It shouldn’t be there, but it is.

It is the worst of autumn days—clouds heavy with rain, a sky like cold pewter. Without the help of lamps and fireplace inside it is dismal and uncomfortable. Coming home from church, rain dripping from our coats, my son and I see something that shouldn’t be there, but it is—sunlight casting its rays on a wall inside our home. It is the reflection from a small tree that stands in the backyard, actually throwing light from its leaves of orange and yellow—and some that still cling to the branches pale and delicate green—until they too will change into that warm and brilliant glow.

A naturally occurrence, yes, but breathtaking . . . oh yes. You have to stop, to look, to ponder on this strange beauty of light.

It reminds me of the woman I talked with this morning, Ann, not the first time we’ve chatted by no means. She’s one of those people I make a bee-line for in the church foyer—one of those women who are what I consider successful. In Ann’s case that means an unusually caring attitude towards others, where she asks you what’s going on in your life and how she can pray for you. You know by just the way she talks about your life—business, career, family—that she’s done things with her life. You trust that proven wisdom because it’s a life that’s been bathed with the Holy Spirit. In Ann, it’s visible. I've admired Ann for several years now. Oh, not just because her personality is laced with genteel Irish humor or that she exemplifies the words, elegant and feminine. I admire her for what shines through her eyes when she stands, tiny and slim, on the platform and sings. Ann means the words. She may sing them for us in the congregation, but she is singing the words to God.

Our whole church has watched Ann these past number of years—and others who also struggle with terminal illness—how these brave souls face circumstances that to me sound as horrifying as Auschwitz. Each one has a story that needs and deserves to be heard. It is Ann’s story that's filled my mind at lot lately, especially when I pray for her. Like that small tree in my backyard, Ann faces her illness and the awful word 'terminal' by casting a light that shouldn’t be there, but is.

What should I pray for Ann, and for her husband? They’re both in this. She’s the one who’s sick, but his pain is great too, watching the one he loves suffer. Ann hopes this whole situation will glorify God. But how? Can I pray that she’ll feel no more pain? Or should I pray God will give her the strength to keep fighting, no matter how hard that may be? Should I pray that her time remaining be an incredible witness? Or what about Heaven? Do I dare ask her—who may be going before me to our eternal home—are you ready? Are you afraid? Or are you excited to know you’ll be in the actual presence of God? Do you try to anticipate the fantastic things you will see or do? Or is the pain of leaving loved ones behind unbearable? Do you want to hang on to this life?

Do I sound like a curious, impertinent child, raising questions that should never be raised in polite conversation? Or are they questions we must all face sooner or later? I look at Ann and wonder, is this brave and beautiful woman, strangely lit from within, showing us the way home?