17 November 2012
"in the clouds..."
No, the title does not represent my usual state of mind, instead, it is taken from this Sunday's Gospel: "and they will see the 'Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory." (Mk 13:24-32) (http://usccb.org/bible/readings/111812.cfm) I was particularly struck by this simple and often overlooked phrase because last night, Friday night, I was having to go get some fuel for my car before heading out to hear confessions. The day had been pretty busy and somewhat difficult but I hadn't yet been able to sit long enough to process all the events that had taken place within the last twenty four hours. So here I went, off to the Shell station on I-20. As I was going there from St. Ann's, I took Garfield street. Part of me looked ahead to the intersection where Garfield meets the train tracks. There, where only a day before, such tragedy had struck. For those not aware of what happened: (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/train-parade-float-accident-in-midland-leaves-4-dead-16-hurt/2012/11/16/2885963c-2ff3-11e2-af17-67abba0676e2_story.html). Anyway, as I was driving to the gas station, I noticed that the train, which had been eerily still since the accident, was gone. Somewhat relieved, I decided to continue on my route to the station. As I approached, however, I noticed that the parade float, an 18 wheeler adapted with chairs for the Veterans and their spouses to sit on, was still there. As I got closer, I noticed that wreckers had arrived on the scene and that the vehicle was being removed. For some reason, perhaps because of the lack of processing, I became emotional at seeing everything there. Because the street was still closed, I had to take an alternate route. As I went I eventually was able to cross the tracks. It was at that moment that I looked out my window into the sunset. As I looked West, I was mesmerized by an array of clouds and sunlight that blanketed the sky. It was a spectacular sight that filled me with great peace and joy. What had a few moments before been a somber reminder of a tragedy, was quickly turned into a celebration of God's love. This is not to say that what happened should be celebrated, on the contrary, mourning and grieving are very necessary, but in that process of expressing the pain of loss, it is also significant that as Christians, we come together not out of necessity or tragedy, but out of love. Here, the beautiful sunset proclaimed to all the glory and wonder of God, even as this scene of devastation was being cleaned up. Here, the gentle clouds combined with the radiant dying light of the evening sun to produce a reminder of the Glory of God whose love and majesty remain with us even when we are too busy focused on the scenes of our own lives. This amazing display was a reminder that in the love of God, Christ comes to each of us and invites us, not to avoid the pain that our lives may have, but to recognize something greater than those difficulties we face, the life that is found in Him! I was so busy focusing on the scene, the memories, my emotion, that I hadn't noticed what was going on above me. There, in the clouds, was the radiant splendor of God's love. And isn't that what God invites us to as His beloved children? A celebration of the life that is found in Him, even in the midst of woe. There, just beyond the tomb, there is the light that calls us to Himself, a light which calls us out of the tomb and into life, a light that shone all around us last night here in Midland, even as we continue to mourn and grieve. A light that reminds us that through the waters of Baptism, and because of His death and resurrection, for those who believe, life is changed not ended. For that, I cannot help but praise Him. As always, know that you are loved. God bless you. Fr. Ricky