purpose, and the alchemy of tragedy…

IMG_9277I may have said this before – oh, about a bazillion times over the past month – but what an amazingly beautiful day it is here in Wake Forest, North Carolina!

The sky is the perfect Carolina blue; everything is fresh, clear, and clean after the long rains; the temperatures are perfect for lingering on the deck with one more cup of coffee; the birds are singing; it’s a morning just bursting with promise.

So what am I going to do? Well, in yesterday’s post I talked a little about personal mission statements (Cold French Fries do not Define Your Story!). Then – just before lunch – Rebekah came into my study and said, “I want to read this to you.” Here’s what she shared:

When I woke up this morning I had a clear vision of God’s purpose through my living. Though I often fail, and I have a lot to learn in the years to come, I have no doubt that my contribution to this world is meant to be the strengthening of love, the turning on of lights in its darkness, the opening of closed spirits; and I believe that this is God’s special purpose for all of us.

I also know, without a doubt, that this is possible, and that God will endow us with his Spirit as we extend ourselves with purpose to this mission. Our task is clear. The starting place is simple…

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute—if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise—let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen… practice these things;. and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

A Long Path:

IMG_9144“I think I recognized the voicing,” I said. “That sounds like me.”

“It is,” she replied. “You wrote this in 1989.”

Context. Rebekah was home yesterday morning preparing the words she’s sharing in today’s funeral service for our friend Sandee Hagen (we left the house at 4:15 so she could catch the early flight to Minneapolis). Rebekah was working to bring some closure to a message that finished not so much with a period but with ellipses (….) back in 1989, at the memorial service after the tragic deaths of Sandee’s husband and son.

I had shared the above words (and Rebekah saved them) just a few days after the accident, as part of a devotional for the young families Sunday school class we were all a part of at Trinity Presbyterian Church.

“That was the moment,” Rebekah said to me yesterday as we talked about it, “where your personal mission became clear (the strengthening of love, the turning on of lights in [the world’s] darkness, the opening of closed spirits).


She was right. Today I’m wondering if there’s a kind of spiritual alchemy to all of this? I’m wondering if maybe dramatic – often tragic – events serve as a catalyst, where common elements already in place are then transformed in ways that are otherwise impossible?

Rebekah described such moments as a great ax coming down, rending time and space, creating fission and fusion and heat like a lightning bolt; and the ground shakes, and sparks fly, and the air is split, and the wind rushes in, and…

… And there go the ellipses again.

Like a long walk in the woods….


Categories: faith, kingdom of God, message, relationships, Uncategorized, writing life

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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