In recent weeks, life has had its up’s and down’s. For all of us. As you know, Fred Trost was the first pastor I served in ministry with…St. Pauls Church, Chicago, circa 1966-69. To this minute, Sunday morning, he continues to be the best mentor. He sensed some of the realities we each face, so wrote this. I can never thank him enough. For his love, his trust, his wisdom and his profound influence…always for the good and the resurrection…in my life. I am so much better because of Fred Trost. Here is what he wrote…powerful, poignant and I’m certain, a great help to each of us, no matter how many birthday candles for the next cake:
This morning, in my reading, I came across a few sentences of the great Paul Scherer, who taught homiletics at Union Theological Seminary and also at Princeton. You may appreciate the following which I sense are related to some of the empty spaces which appear in our lives from time to time. This is from one of his sermons, (Isaiah 49:22-23).
“Edna St. Vincent Millay tells of a day in her life when the world seemed to crowd in on her from every side. Even Infinity, she thought, came down and settled over her. She knew (human) hunger for her own. All suffering was hers, and death. And at that strange word the earth gave way, to let her sink gladly, deeply into its breast. Yet there was still the friendly sound of the rain above, and she wanted to kiss its fingers. And the dripping trees, and all the silver of the spring, and the autumn gold… If only she were alive once more! If only God would put her back! When suddenly, to the sound of herald wings like music, the startled waters plunged down (from) the sky and washed her grave away! The winds blew, and thrust the miracle of breath into her face. Up from the ground she sprang, and hailed the earth with such a shout as is not heard save from one who has been dead, and is alive!… There was a God whose radiant identity no dark disguise could ever hide from her again. Never could he move across the grass but her quick eye would see him pass. However silently now he spoke, her hushed voice would answer him. Back on the hilltop she stood, where all of it had begun, and the world had crowded in; but with a heart now that could push away the sea and land: a soul to split the sky in two, and let the face of God shine through!”
There are times, we all know them, when “hunger” and “suffering” and “death” nearly take our breath away… But then there comes, miraculously, the “friendly rain,” the “silver spring,” the “autumn gold” and we come alive once more. “Herald wings like music…!” Costly grace! The wonder of “breath…” in our face again. We, who sometimes feel as if we are dead…begin to breathe… “the face of God…” shining through.
Fred also added the power of Karl Barth: As you know, Karl Barth loved the music of Mozart. There were times when he reflected on Mozart in his writings. I came across this little piece by Barth on Mozart this morning and thought of you and of us all and our attempts to deal embrace the light and experience the darkness.
“Thus darkness, chaos, death and hell show themselves but not for a moment are they allowed to prevail… There is no light here that does not know darkness, no joy that does not also contain suffering, but, conversely too, no terror, no rage, no lament that does not have peace standing by, whether close up or far off. Thus there is no laughter without tears, but also too, no tears without laughter…” There are times when I think this is true.
From Fred Trost on June 24, 2017
With that, which I’ve shared before, Tom and Jill Widlits are more than relatives. They are close and trusted. I’ve shared they have “adopted” a grandchild, Emory. Yesterday was Emory’s birthday…so Tom and Jill celebrated as proud grandparents. Tom sent a couple of pictures that embraced my heart…about how the world, and yes, for me now, the present tugging into the future, is about children…ours, our grandchildren and all the Emery’s of the world. So, Emory? Thanks for your sunshine…and of all things, partnered with Edna St. Vincent Millay, making this day and each new day realities of goodness that tell the untoward to stay beyond arm’s distance. See how she “dances” and leads the horse? Let God lead us to her and all the “hers” in our world…and beyond: