How the Brave Deal With Losses

Because it’s Canadian Thanksgiving here on the farm laden with light and pumpkins and leaves falling everywhere … and because it’s Columbus Day in the USA… and we are all on a journey of discovering how to live with losses in places we never expected to find ourselves — and  my head’s ringing with this:

All through the woods, the trees are letting go.

I told the Farmer on the way home from Sunday chapel —

when we came up to the top of Bobbie Johnson’s corner, and just before he turned, where you could look long to the northwest and out across Gingerich’s cornfield to their woodlot with the embers of maple —

that it was brave, the way the trees made dying look glorious.

How did you let go and relinquish glory and be willing to stand bare, straight into wind?

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There’s fog in the morning.

That’s how the week starts — Monday and early and fog hanging on in the corn and at the edges of greying trees. The zinnias are browning old at the picket fence. The light and the laundry just keep coming without fail.

It’s Biblical — let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

But just because He allows everything that has breath to praise Him —  doesn’t mean most everyone takes Him up on the offer.

Is it robbery for everything that has breath to take oxygen from His world and not praise the Lord?

Yeah — I can start the spin cycle and be a thief and still beg to be with Him today in Paradise.

When she’s in from the barn, she slams that back door, her hair dripping like she drowned in that shower that doused her curls and the smell of hogs, and she comes grinning and looking for me, holding out her hand.

She announces it like a heralding:

I lost my tooth. The Lord has blessed me.

In the east, the sun burns away the mist and the light shakes me awake.

The Lord has blessed me.

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How does she do that?

How does she fill her gaping with celebrating and who sees blessing in loss and how can you just hold on to some peace and sanity and your half of the quilt even in nightmares?

How in the world can her and the trees let go — and praise?

When heaven gets into your world.

She’s feeling her tongue through the hole and I grope around inner craters.

She’s grinning right through this silly hole in her mouth and I knit brows over kids yelling, and when did I start thinking serenity was something that I owned, that peace was something I had property rights to — and that I’d been straight out robbed if I lost a bit of peace and quiet? How can I lose it when I lose things as trite as a clean counter, a break, an uninterrupted moment?

And I touch the edge of things —

Who am I to complain in losses — when what I lost wasn’t mine to begin with?

She looks like Job standing there.

Job standing there with her tooth in her hand: I lost — and the Lord has blessed. Job loses everything he loves and that’s his first response — this wild, tenacious thanks:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20–21).

“Want to see it?” There’s this bare black gap in her grin.

And she hands me what the Lord has given and what the Lord has taken away and I hold her tooth and Job is the witness to the impossible made possible:

When thanksgiving is your default — the enemy gets his defeat.

You defeat your dark when thanksgiving is your default.

Her pearly tooth, it rolls like a favor between my fingers.

Anything I have, I don’t deserve.

Everything I have isn’t a given — it’s given.

Nothing is a given — everything’s a gift.

Who am I to complain in losses when what I lost wasn’t mine to begin with?

It’s like Spurgeon‘s murmur:

“Praise is the beauty of a Christian.

What wings are to a bird, what fruit is to the tree, what the rose is to the thorn, that is praise to a child of God.”

~ Spurgeon

Yes, let’s — we are always allowed. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord — because praise is breath to a child of God.

Praise is the only way to really breathe.

The child, she look glorious.  I say it to myself all morning, like something new cutting up through places in me: I lost — the Lord has blessed.

And the toothless Job child, she’s singing it loud, over the vacuum cleaner slurping up the dust kangaroos on the stairs and she sings only slight off tune and that only makes me smile, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, worship His holy name… ”

Unyielding gratitude to God — is how God makes us unstoppable.

The leaves keep giving away.

And all these losses, this day and what is now and everything here slipping away — and she wiggles another pearly with her tongue and says it with the sure certainty of a toothless prophet, that it’s likely she’ll lose the next one soon.

And I nod and smile brave at the glory and the losses without end…

grace and God coming without fail.

 

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Related: and my ongoing messy wrestle & story of dealing with losses… 

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