A soul-shattering, bone-chilling, suffocating fog of grief had descended upon my world.
The eerie, graveyard quiet was impenetrable. Absolutely nothing beyond the end of the dock where I had sat was observable. Except for the still water, all had been lost in the gray shroud of unfathomable sorrow.
Death had not taken a Christmas holiday.
Lovingly wrapped presents that had been placed under the tree would not be opened.
There would be no one to open them.
They had all – the mother and her two little ones – perished in a fire.
I had only met them the week before.
As I stood in the foyer on the threshold of the nave of the church I pastored, there in the sanctuary in front of the hushed assembly were three caskets.
A white casket reposed directly down the middle of the aisle; to one side there was a smaller pink casket; to the other side was a smaller blue casket.
What was I to do?
The only thing I was able to do.
“There is no safe investment,” wrote C.S. Lewis in his book The Four Loves.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.
“If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
Scattered like shards of stained glass across the carpeted church floor, the vulnerability of our lives had been shattered.
But we gave our hearts to each other, and we began the process of retrieving the broken pieces of our lives and loves and hopes the best we could as we reflected upon the words and promises of The One who mends, sustains and restores hope.