As I look out my window, blustery winds of change are wreaking havoc on the fall leaves – sweeping away, in unrelenting bursts of turbulence and disarray, the once green glory of summer – and with it, the floral remnants of warmer days. Funny how there’s both a joy and sadness in the changing of seasons.
I remember those same conflicting emotions standing alone beside the hospital bed of my comatose father as his heartbeat waned on the monitor nearby until it was no more. That surreal moment has stayed with me since 1981. No one else could bear to witness his departure, choosing instead to gather in the waiting room outside so as to be spared the brutality of reality.
It was the first time I had witnessed someone’s passing – and I suppose I imagined the world would somehow pause in honor of him as I prayed and thanked God for giving me a father that was now being unceremoniously taken away before my eyes. Having never experienced such a thing, and being a relatively new Christian, I remember wondering if I would see his spirit leave his body and hear angels singing off in the distance when he took his last breath.
He and my mother had adopted me as a newborn from an unmarried woman in the 1950s who had notated on hospital records that the father of the child was “unknown.” Considering what could have become of me under such circumstances, I was grateful to have been given not only the chance to live, but also a loving and stable home and family in which to grow up.
Suddenly the curtain around my father’s hospital bed flew open and a janitor barged in for the trash. And when I raised my head to see him come and go, I noticed out the window the lunchtime traffic rushing up and down the busy streets of Dallas many floors below – people hurriedly returning to work after their noontime break.
Life was going on undeterred by my father’s demise as if it were just another day and another soul passing through, reminding me that death was just a part of life and that it happens all around us whether we know it or not.
Doctors had given him only five years to live a dozen or so years earlier; and though his passing was not an easy thing to witness, it certainly came as no surprise – not to me or to anyone out in the waiting room who understood the seriousness of his illness. You see, we all were well informed that this day would come. It was just hard to believe that it was finally here. Hope for recovery was gone and all one could do was sigh and cry and say goodbye.
Now, in November of 2009, blustery winds of change are wreaking havoc in America – stripping away the glory of a nation whose season in the sun has also come and gone. It too is hard to watch but comes as no real surprise. Though our myopic tendencies make it difficult to imagine, the world will carry on in spite of its absence, influence and ideals – with or without the Stars and Stripes that so many have bravely fought and died for through the years. Friends overseas will note its passing and some will morn, but all will eventually move on assessing for history how it all came to pass.
I doubt we will witness ascending spirits or heavenly voices when America gives up the ghost. People will take out the trash like they always have and rush back to work after lunch much like they did at that hospital 28 years ago. And some of us will give thanks for the rights, freedoms, privileges, opportunities, peace and prosperity God provided us for a time as they are unceremoniously taken away before our eyes while the world carries on undeterred by our unfortunate loss.
The challenge, as I see it, is to face the brutality of reality with an unwavering faith in God and great expectations for eternity – to find joy and gratitude even in our sorrow and grief – not as orphans without a home, but as adopted children of the King, knowing our Father in Heaven still lives and reigns with or without the America we grew up in.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”
Paul Proctor -- Seasons Of Change
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