On March 3, my mother died. It rocked me. This woman who raised me from an infant; who poured herself into the care and formation of her four children... was no longer on this world. We each need a mother. I no longer had mine.
For many days prior to her passing and many days after her passing, I found myself overwhelmed by the quickly rising waters of sadness. On three occasions, I broke down while other people were present. Once it was in the middle of church. (I think it embarrassed my wife, who simultaneously put her arm on me to show her support).
I could keep the sadness at bay a number of ways: By working to increase her comfort in her final days; by working to arrange the funeral with my siblings immediately after she passed; by working on cleaning the decades of accumulated flotsam out of her house while all of us were still in town; by eating more; by sleeping when I couldn't get mental relief; by trying to have some laughs with friends about nonsense. But none of these controlled the sadness for long. Before long it found a new way in.
Why in the middle of this sadness do I find I'm closer to God? Isn't my belief in God grounded in the idea that he will remove all sadness, and will replace it with a mindless sickeningly sweet joy? No. I've gotten to know Him now for a few decades, and I know Him better with each passing year and with each passing difficulty and success.
I find that my relationship with him is like a ratchet on a come-along (that manly device the helps you muscle a stump out of the ground or a car out of a ditch, using leverage and a strong, saw-toothed wheel that only allows a cable to move in one direction and not slip back). In good times, when I recognize the very real influence He has had on a situation, I thank Him for his goodness. The surprise is that in bad times, which are inevitable for all people, when I recognize His very real presence, I thank Him for standing alongside me and helping me to bear it.
Today when I came home from work at Ford, I was completely out of sorts. I felt overwhelmed and beat up from all the events of the last two weeks and the knowledge that whether I'm ready or not, I'm back in the game at full steam again. My mind jumped between the various methods I could use to find some relief (ended up eating dinner with my family and just napping for two hours). But still, no relief.
So I picked up the 'little black book' that is offered free to members of my church and other local churches during the time of Lent. I started to feel that peace flow back. When I got to the daily reading that matched the date of my mother's death (March 3), it said, "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return".
The 'coincidence' of that timing did not escape me. I felt (as is true so many times) that the Lord was speaking to me. He was saying to me "this is part of a large plan that I understand, that you cannot yet understand, but if you continue to trust me, you will live your whole life with a feeling of peace that all is well; all things have their place."