It has been twenty years.
Twenty years since David left his place. I remember the crab tree was white with flower and the sky blue as only Calgary skies seem to be. I remember coming home from school to find everyone at home, gathered in my mom and dad’s bedroom weeping because David was gone. David, who I admired. David, who was kind. David, my cousin who I loved.
Twenty years is an absurd number.
Time is this widening expanse from everything except the loss that still brings tears to my eyes in this public place where I sit this morning. David passed through water into eternity. And I wonder if the Holy Spirit is revealing something, and I want to keep my fingers typing so that the thoughts keep coming even though it makes me cry, smearing the eyeliner that I so carefully applied this morning for no reason.
I woke up thinking about David because the twenty-eighth of April never passes without notice, like the birthdays that you learned as a child never leave your recollection; so too the holy days of loss. Loss, that jagged possession that stabs and draws blood and tears when you think you finally have a handle on it. That lump in your throat that can’t possibly be swallowed, but must be in order to survive.
I read the first couple of chapters of Genesis this morning because my fingers turned there, conscious and unconscious in the grey light of a clouded day that doesn’t look anything like that blue day, except that the crab tree is white with apple blossoms again.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)
It dawns on me that the Spirit of God still hovers over the waters. The waters that wash over us when we are formless and empty with loss that feels bigger than the Earth as someone’s place at the family table sits vacant. The Spirit of God hovers over the saltwater tears that burst forth when the worst news comes.
When the precious are lost at sea the Spirit of God hovers over us.
We are mostly water.
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5)
Jesus says some difficult things to understand and I feel as though the meaning of this is almost revealed, but lies hidden so that my fingernails are grasping at the edges of it, looking for a way in. Last Sunday, I saw twelve people baptized. I heard them declare their faith in Christ and then pass momentarily through water to the applause and tears of witnesses.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)
Water never meant death for me until it buried my much loved cousin.
“But God raised him [Jesus] from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:32)
It is impossible for death to keep its hold.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:5)
David left his seat among us. Wreathed in love and memory, his earthly place rests vacant because he has gone ahead, the first to take his place at the real table where the former things have passed away and the imperishable have been raised.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:6)
Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Col 3:1)
In the elapse of these twenty years others have joined David at that Table. Auntie Judy. Grandpa. Their faces don’t grow dim in my memory because what I recall is faces filled with joy and delight. Every shadow gone. Every tear wiped away. The children of God fully revealed.