Take a good look at God's work. Who could simplify and reduce Creation's curves and angles to a plain straight line? (Ecclesiastes 7:13, The Message)
Becky and Dave will be planting a flower garden in the backyard of their home in one of the suburbs of Grand Rapids. Nothing much of a surprise here, is there? How many of you will plant a flower garden, pausing only briefly to debate the merits of perennial vs. annual or peonies vs. pansies. No doubt you will focus on color and easy care (I know I would) and you’ll head off to the local big-box or garden store to make your selections from their steamy greenhouse. Flower gardens are as American as anything else, right? Well, yes they are, but perhaps the one at this house is different.
Becky posted a social network status this week indicating she and Dave had lost their unborn child … a little girl named Loryn. And while this type of loss hits anyone hard, there is an extra aspect there to consider in their case. Becky writes a blog (the link is on our main page) discussing how they deal with their blended family - life in “Stepville” as she calls it. Both of them come from broken first marriages and are working through the battles of kids, step-kids, ex-spouses, and a myriad of other baggage that comes along with the arrangement. That’s kind of the point of the blog and, I think, it is a topic that should receive far more attention than what I’ve seen it given. So to lose a child that would have been uniquely a part of the two of them … the weight seems almost unbearable even from here.
When I learned that Loryn was to be a “Flower that Never Bloomed” (borrowing from the lyrics of a song I heard over 25 years ago), my heart went out to Becky and Dave. I reached out and asked if I could write a blog post about it - not because I have any special knowledge, but because they hurt, they are my friends, and I hurt along with them. And because I’ve seen it a few times before as well. I’ve written multiple times about my brother Pete and his wife Louise and all that is connected with their losses of Michael and Sophie. I thought immediately of my friends Camille and Grant Lewis and how Camille refers to her un-bloomed flowers as her “Heaven babies”. No, I’ve never been as close as any of them, but I do have at least some perspective to serve as a point of reference. And even from my view it is deeply painful, so I can barely imagine what Becky and Dave are feeling right now as they begin working through their grief.
It struck me, as I exchanged some messages with Becky, that this is the very essence of that Crooked Path I write about. As Peterson puts in in The Message, “a plain straight line” isn’t how God works. Straight lines, while useful, are boring. But if we accept the curves and shapes and changes that bring so many joys our way, we have to be willing to accept the grief and sorrow and pain that accompany them at times. We have to accept that God sees things in a much different way than we do - a completely different perspective. And we have to be willing to trust that He loves us far more than we can imagine. He will be the single thing we can count on when life isn’t “straight”.
The Crooked Path reminds me that I have a Heavenly Father waiting for me at the end, One who is encouraging me to keep my eyes on Him. It reminds me that I have a Divine Brother who has traveled this path and now doubled back to travel it along side me. It tells me that my part in God’s Story continues to unfold and that while I know the ending, there are many tales yet to tell and many scenes to play out. And when flowers such as Loryn fail to bloom, I cling to Hope and keep walking even in the pain.