Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

Do you know that song?  Here Comes the Sun?  In googling it, I just discovered it's a Beatles song, which reminds me of all those times as a kid when we would hear a song on the radio and say, "Hey that's from the McDonalds commercial!" - an aren't-they-cute-and-young moment that we share with our own kids now, only the songs are usually from Shrek.  It reminds me of that, because until just now I would have said "Here Comes the Sun" was from Parent Trap.  The remake.   

I heard it today and thought of Natasha Richardson in that movie when she and Lindsey Lohan share a mother-daughter moment in London.  It's very sunshiny, very happy, very alive.  And suddenly I was crying.  I felt so sad for Natasha's family.  When the announcement was made of her death, it came with that typical publicist-worded phrase about respecting the family's privacy.  I figure that mostly means photographers, but I still felt rude blogging about it or tweeting it on twitter when I am anything but family and that would hardly be privacy.  Today I can't help it though.  

I've recently reread a lovely book called Stepping Heavenward.  It's very old, but it has one of the more relatable Christian characters I've ever read.  Relatable to me at least.  Her name is Katy.  The book takes her from adolescence to motherhood and shows her Christian growth - as she herself would say.  She's desperate for Christian growth throughout the book.  She is always trying to know God better, or rather, to reflect Him more.  She has fits of almost unreal faith because of this - little euphoric moments of grace where she feels basically perfected.  I hate to admit those moments of hers are as relatable to me as her fits of unrest, of gloom, and of the conviction that she will never understand God's ways nor how to be a proper Christian. 

Katy has several seasoned Christians in her life, so the book is full of their helpful (if pious) monologues about the Christian walk.  I like them both - I like the religious statements because there are nuggets of true and attainable poetry in them, and I like the temper tantrums and the sorrow and the imperfection, because it's true.  I find life somewhere in the middle most of the time.  There is an odd celebration for suffering in the book that I don't quite understand.  I know it's straight bible to "rejoice that we are counted worthy" to suffer as Jesus did.  Still, when the seasoned woman said as much - how blessed she was by the death of every person she'd ever held dear because it drew her closer to God and shouldn't the younger woman in the same way cheerfully accept the sudden death of her fiance, I kind of wanted to crawl through the book and shush her.

That's not a kind of faith that I actually understand.  For one thing, if we suffer because we are counted worthy it seems to follow that those who glide on peacefully must not be held in high esteem by Him.  And don't think I'm reading too greatly into this - I can't think of any character in the book who doesn't suffer but is considered a seasoned Christian.  The rich and healthy people in the book are generally grumpy and ingenuous and shallow while the ones who pursue Him are continually losing health and family members!  The faith I have managed thus far is somewhere in between.  I don't think I could ever actually thank God if he took something from me so precious as a fiance or a child.  I don't really think I believe that God does such a thing.  I think death takes our loved ones from us, and God - thankfully - receives them on the other side.  

However, I've been through some things.  And I've watched wonderful people go through some things.  And I do believe that you can embrace the pain without losing your faith.  And if you do that, eventually, the sun comes back.  It eventually always does.  There will be better, happier times, and you will actually feel the happy.  That's the sun to me.  It's so hard to believe when it's cloudy, like it was at our house today when the song came on that made me think of Natasha Richardson's family.  I know they feel so dark today.  And I have a hard time believing that taking a mother from two teenage sons and a husband is just the best thing for all involved.  I think it's awful, and if it were me I'd have a little talk with God when I joined Him - it's great here and all, but WHY?  Still, even for the Richardson family, and although it might be a while - here comes the sun.  I've seen it happen, so I know it can.


Felicity said...

This is beautiful. Bring on the Sun!

Anonymous said...

I've been patiently waiting, quietly, for this blog. You didnt disappoint, you, once again, lifted ME up.

"and I say.....it's allright"
I pretty much love ANY version of that song!

Sarah said...

3 things.
1) I TOTALLY always thought of "Here Comes The Sun" as that song where the girl from parent trap and her mother go shopping - it's probably the scene I remember the most from that movie because I loved it so much. It was only last year I learned from American Idol (what else is new?) that it was a Beatles' song.
2) I feel exactly the same way about talking about Natasha Richardson's death. But you did it really well.
3) This was such a beautiful post. I absolutely loved it:)

Kelly H-Y said...

That was so beautifully-written, Serenity. You stated so perfectly all the things I'm thinking about and sometimes struggling with ... almost on a daily basis. I might need to read the book you referred to. Wonderful post.

Kathy said...

Ditto to all the above. When your dad and I were going through a really hard, tragic time lots of people tried to help by reminding me God was still on the throne. I knew He was, of course, but for some reason that thought wasn't helping. Then our pastor walked in, looked at me and said, "I hate that you guys are going through this. It is awful."
I had immediate peace, and I felt like God who was on the throne was also in the room putting His arms around me. It was the most perfect thing anyone has ever said to me about suffering.

serenity said...

Thank you girls for all your sweet words. I'm glad it came across like I wanted it to. And Kelly, the author of that book is Mrs. E. Prentiss. The entire book is journal entries, and sometimes you'll be put out with the girl for going around the same mountain all the time, but you see her grow more peaceful too, and it's just very inspiring.

Katie said...

Well said. I have a hard time thanking God in suffering too - it helps more to know that He is suffering with us.

Have you ever read The Dead Don't Dance? It's a powerful story about suffering, love and God.

serenity said...

No, I haven't read that one, Katie. Thanks for the tip!

Tracy said...

This was so touching, Serenity. I long ago quit trying to figure out where (or who) pain and tragedy comes from. The thing that comforts me is just knowing that no matter what, God is there for us when it does happen. He picks up the pieces, He brings out the sun.
I love this post.

Molly said...

This is lovely. Lately I feel kind of like a soldier in a foxhole. Bombs going off all around but I haven't been hit...yet. Nothing terrible has happened to me personally (all though all around me, obviously) in a really long time. I hate that I feel like I'm waiting for a shoe to drop sometimes, but that just is what it is I guess.

I finally finished Letters for Lizzie. (the book by James O'Donnell about his wife who had cancer) In the end he talks about feeling like the Spartans, surrounded and doomed at Thermopylae. As the story goes, after that famous battle the city erected a statue in their honor saying, "Here the men of Sparta behaved just as you hoped they would." That's my hope for all of us, that in trials we'll see the sun and behave accordingly.

Molly said...

p.s. Lizzie lived. :-)

The book was wrenching though, and I don't know if I would recommend it to you or not.

serenity said...

Mol, I probably won't pick it up then unless you 'esplain. :)


I have been disturbed by Natasha Richardson's passing. I don't know why. The only thing I remember her in is Maid in Manhattan and she didn't exactly play the character you loved most.

Maybe it is because I am heading perilously close to the mid-40's and these freak incidents can happen to anyone. Or maybe it is because I don't know where Ms Richardson is right now. For some reason my heart is heavy over this. And so, I pray for the family.

I completely agree with you on the sun. Let's not forget what that famous little red head orphan told us: The sun'll come out tomorrow!

Paul Nickerson said...

I love the way you face complex issues head on, and don't spiritualize everything. There is huge human cost in suffering, and you have balanced grief with hope. Well done!

I'm with Kathy on this, too. When the staff of the church in Birmingham all met Jacki as she came off the plane after learning of Christina's death. It was the Christ "with skin on" that hugged and cried with her. Our pastor, Bill Elder was always one with words for every situation. Jacki and I were both incredibly moved when all he could do was cry (and they were real deep sobs) with us and hug us at that moment. And words of practical advice are what we received from him and others. Words like, "We will help you get through this. Let me help you with funeral arrangements. It is painful but doable even as you grieve."

But there was an unseen presence of Jesus, too. We cried....a lot. But we were and continue to be amazed that the worst of it seemed to fall on Him. Somehow Jesus was there like armor receiving the sharp part of the pain while all we felt was the thud against the armor. People would say things like you did about losing a child; thoughts we shared before the event--I just knew that I would come apart if faced with it. But when it happened it was so surreal, because none of that type of grieving hit us. While we cried He kept us in His peace.

But it was the wonderful combination of "Christ with skin on" and His own Presence that surrounded us that got us through it. Molly, when that other shoe drops you will experience that too. He IS the Son we shall have when He is needed, and that is His reality.

serenity said...

Thanks, Uncle Paul. And thanks for your perspective. What a great picture that with God's support (and those of our loved ones) the pain is anesthetized a bit - a thud instead of a sharp pang. That's a very cool thought and one I've definitely experienced.

PurpleClover said...

Beautiful post. Excellent job in conveying your thoughts. I loved it!

I am somewhat angered when people are taught that God has "taken" someone and that he needed another angel. I don't believe that. I do believe that God is there when you need him most to help you through a tragedy, but people find it hard to rely on him because they are upset he didn't intervene. I can totally understand that frustration. I have not suffered a great tragedy (I've lost friends and family but no one immediate) and I like to think that when/if it ever happened I would not be angered by God because I know I will really need Him then.

I just hope these families can find the answers they need before they give up on that journey.