It is now just over four years since I gazed on a grandson in a tiny casket. I don't know how to measure the difference in pain between male and female, for I have never born an infant in my womb or nursed a baby at my breast. I don't think the male mind can fully comprehend the pain of a mother, five days after giving birth - with her milk in full - laying her infant beneath the frozen ground. I had been published on the subject of grief, but a young mother wrapped with a towel to soak up the milk leaking from aching breasts presents a side to the loss that had never before entered my mind.
Strange contemplations at Easter?
I often wonder about the anticipated reunion. In the timelessness of eternity, is Dylan a four-year-old now? Does he know how eagerly his grandpa (and many others) anticipated holding him? Does he know how deeply he was loved? Does he know his Mommy's aching arms have been blessed twice since, and he is big brother to two beautiful sisters? Does he have any idea how intensely I still long to give him a grandpa's hug, whether he is an infant, a young child or an adult when we meet?
Easter came just far enough after Dylan's death that we were no longer numb. Each year since, Easter, more than the anniversary of his death, brings the pain and hope back into focus.
What a rich season. With memories of a pain deeper than I knew it was possible to experience, the cry from the cross, "My God, My God. Why have you forsaken me?" has taken on a vastly deeper significance. My "sin," that part of me I want to describe in kinder language - meant the Son of God experienced total separation from His Father. He experienced that separation within the agony of the most painful and humiliating death humanity has managed to conceive. And He endured it all with the power and authority to bring it to a halt. Nowhere else in all of history does love so clearly become an action rather than a feeling, a verb rather than a noun.
Yes, Easter brings conflict. The sheer magnitude of such love - even with my inadequate understanding - confronts my indiscretions and calls them "sin." It confronts the shallowness of my love and sets the standard infinitely higher. It confronts my deepest pain, shares it and bathes it with hope. The season also reminds me of love poured into our lives and the lives of our family at a time when we were desperately vulnerable, a love we could never have comprehended without the pain. And because of the resurrection, it still promises a reunion. So where the pain seemed bottomless, the riches still to come are even more immeasurable.
Conflict? Yes - but oh so rich and overflowing with love. A season to delight in and savour, to risk vulnerability while trying to understand a little more fully the vastness of God's love's love. A season to lift the communion cup with hands that almost tremble as you contemplate a sacrifice beyond comprehension, and the love behind that sacrifice.