It seems right the focus of the devotional I’ve been reading is abundance from ashes—watching what grows out of what seems wantonly destroyed—and touching people in their moments of pain.
My nephew is dead. He was only 32.
The whole family is like one big, open wound.
It also seems right that the sky opened up on my trip out. It poured tears the day I stopped to light a candle for my nephew at Our Lady of the Snows.
Originally, the trip was meant to be different. I wanted to walk in the gardens, pray the stations of the cross, pause in the Lourdes Grotto.
This wasn’t the day for all that. I quickly took pictures in the rain—the church, the shrine, the Way of the Cross. The Agony Garden you see above.
But I couldn't stay ... wait for the sun to shine. There were people waiting for me to share their grief with them. And there was grief falling from the sky like waves of monsoon rains.
This trip wasn’t about my journey or my pilgrimage or any of my pilgrimage planning.
Like many of the moments in our lives, this was a passing-by, moments falling like leaves, fading into the ground to build something new. To grow abundance from ashes like a seed that survived the flames.
So I couldn’t walk and think (but then, I wasn’t really thinking) or pray. But the candle was lit. And later on during the service back home, we shared our many memories, some I’d never known about: nearly an hour of memories in a service of family and friends.
How he swam the springs, taught the cousins to catch crawdads, protected the younger ones from flying rocks when the adventure across the train trestle didn’t go as planned. All the people he helped that I never knew about. His plan for lighting all the fireworks at once. His smile. The friend who came to play songs and remember how my nephew was someone he could really talk to about anything … how he helped him to find himself.
Our wounds will eventually heal. Somehow abundance will grow from the ashes. However broken in the moments, his was a life God has touched and has touched us through.
He’s a reminder that the things we do don’t have to be big or seen by a lot of people to matter. It’s those moments of being real, of shielding others when they’re vulnerable, helping them when they can’t quite do it all themselves. Making memories. Bringing a smile.
Sometimes those little things are enough to make a big difference. To make joy grow.
And I will remember: