The car ride was silent, with my Grandfather in the passenger seat, his work worn hands smoothing out invisible wrinkles on the knees of his Levi’s jeans.
“I’ve been living with her dying for a long time,” he finally said, breaking the silence I was trying not to fill with empty words about how I was sure everything would be fine.
I was following the ambulance I had called for my grandmother that morning, and not wanting my grandfather to drive to the hospital, I offered to take him.
“She almost didn’t wake up once, you know,” he said, looking straight ahead, almost as if speaking to the dashboard.
“The priest came and everything. Just wouldn’t wake up from the anesthesia. All the nurses were pinching her arms black and blue, trying to get her to come out of it. But she wouldn’t.”
I slowed to stop at a yellow light as the ambulance raced ahead of us.
“So I followed the priest into the room, and I took her hand, and told her that if she could hear me, to say something.”
Realizing that I had been clenching my fingers around the steering wheel, I relaxed my grip.
“And next thing you know, she says,
‘Oh Bud, I’d know your voice anywhere. It hurts like hell, Bud.”
Love, it seems, is the only thing strong enough to pull us out of the darkness.
While love is both tender and kind, it is not to be confused with, as Brennan Manning says, gauzy sentimentality or schmaltz. No, not love.
Love is stronger than death, fiercer than the grave.
It’s the only thing able to pull us back from the brink of hopelessness, the only thing able to heal our wounds and right our many wrongs.
It’s the ferocity of love——not guilt, not shame, not fear——that draws us to repentance.
It’s love’s firm pull that compels us to walk in forgiveness.
It’s love that gives us the courage to lay down our lives for the sake of another.
Without it, we’re clanging gongs or resounding cymbals at best——it’s stronger than any special knowledge or gifts, greater than even hope or faith.
It’s love that frees our souls from fear, with John writing that God himself is love, and that all who live in love, live in God.
It was love that beckoned Jesus from the grave, that dismantled death and all of his friends, and set the world on fire with the upside down ways of love your enemy and your neighbor as yourself.
It’s love, in all of it’s relentless fury, that shows up precisely when we’ve given up.
When all the options have been exhausted, & the priest has come in to say last rites.
Love shows itself strong, and pulls us back into the light.