May 18, 2011

A Time for Everything

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot, 
a time to kill and a time to heal, 
a time to tear down and a time to build, 
a time to weep and a time to laugh, 
a time to mourn and a time to dance, 
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, 
a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 
a time to search and a time to give up, 
a time to keep and a time to throw away, 
a time to tear and a time to mend, 
a time to be silent and a time to speak, 
a time to love and a time to hate, 
a time for war and a time for peace."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 

I woke up at my usual time, grabbed my Bible, and slipped out the door. Dave and Zernan were sleeping in the common area and a step onto the balcony showed that it was raining. So I decided to head downstairs where I pulled up a chair to one of the tables and set down my things. It was going to be an early morning for all of us, but I needed to get time with God before we caught the 7:00am bus.

We were heading into Laoag to visit a hospital patient. Her name was Chita, and she was also the mother of one of the AY, Cliff. Chita had had breast cancer for years, but had never gotten treatment for it. The last few weeks things had been going from bad to worse and now she was in the hospital with severe pain. We were going to pray with her and the family, sing songs, and simply be as supportive as we could be.

"Good morning." Pastor Marc walked up and sat down beside me. He leaned back in his chair and stretched--he looked tired.

"Cliff was calling and texting me all night," he told me. "She's not doing well. I guided him through praying with her and the last time he called I could hear everyone singing. The last time he texted me, he said they were coming home to Gaoa."

"When was that?"
"So we'll go straight to Gaoa at 7:00?"
"Are we still going?"
"Well, we're all planning on it. I think it would be good." It seemed like there was greater need than ever to go see Chita. We knew there wasn't much time left.

When everyone else had gotten up and had come together for our morning worship, I told them what had been happening through the night. We all solemnly agreed that we needed to go to Cliff's home, soon. So we went about grabbing breakfast and brushing our teeth, all in a dark sort of urgency. I darted through the rain to the church to check if Pastor Marc was ready. I met him as he was walking out the church door. As he walked passed me he said quietly, "Cliff texted again: 'she's gone.'"

I closed my eyes and stood frozen, my heart sinking as tears filled my eyes. She's gone.

Our hurried efforts were too late. She's gone.

I walked slowly back to the pavilion, not caring about how wet I was getting. I sat on a table and let my eyes stare straight ahead as tears slipped down my cheeks. Pastor Marc sat quietly in a chair and informed the other SMs as they appeared. She's gone.

We took trikes to the bus stop at Mawini and waited for an eastbound bus to pass. We waited and waited under our shelter as the rain poured down around us. No one said a word the whole time. We just sat and stood in silence, watching and thinking.

Tears continued to fall from my eyes as I turned my gaze towards the rice fields. Big white birds like egrets were wandering through the crops, the dark sky a significant contrast behind them. They're so majestic and beautiful birds, but on that day they just seemed--mournful.

I watched one take to the sky, and was filled with grief for the world.

And there's nothing you can do and there's nothing you can say that makes these things okay. Sometimes you just need to feel the pain because it's time to feel it.

There's a time for everything. And this time won't last much longer.

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