2009 Mountain Retreat
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This year I past an anniversary which I did not remember.  Previous to this year, as that date approached in February, I scarcely could have believed that it would creep by without a flood of memories, pain, or sorrow.   Yet this year the date in early February on which my Mother died from a horrible cancer which tore her body apart, passed without my notice.  A week later I realized that its hours had slid past and I was not sure how to feel.  At first I was angry and disappointed in myself.  This was a day that in many ways has been the most defining of my entire life… and it lay un-honored, un-remembered.  How could a loving son and whole person forget all that those 24 hours meant for my life?

But, perhaps this is often the way with our lives.  So much of our time and energy is spent on how we should have felt, what we should have believed.  We obsess over the path of our lives, which God has ordained which we dare not stray from.  We think constantly about how we should feel and what we should do. Rarely do we consider how we actually feel, or stop long enough to take in where we truly are.  We deny where we are because it doesn’t fit the prediction, the plan, of how we wanted things to be. We cry out at the sky wanting answers to why this life looks as it does, why our story is sometimes so hard or so sad.  We believe that God should answer our questions, not that we should learn His.  We cry out because we are terrified of the unknown.

In many ways our lives are made up of moments like a post-impressionist Pointillist painting is crafted of thousands of dots, each significant but which only having meaning when viewed together, at a proper distance. Together the dots make up faces, stories, landscapes and tales. Each dot works to create something but no single dot is critical to the purpose.  Each could be changed, moved or eliminated while the painting and its beauty would remain the same.

Perhaps it is time that we stop obsessing over every dot of our lives and start thinking about the whole painting – a portrait of our Christ and his Love in our world.  That day in February slipped past by not because I forgot my Mother, or because I love her less.  My love has not dulled.  But as the pain of her loss has dimmed, it has allowed me to step back and see those dots – see that day as a part my story along with so many other moments.  And that day stands next to so many marks of paint that came from our laughter, her love, her lessons and her faith, and the things I have become since. I know that they will always make up a part of my painting, but to finish what she helped me start I must continue see what this life – this work of art will become.  I must look for the larger image that each dot becomes a part of.

Our God is not a God of dots.  Some might have us believe that God ordains our life like a realist painter, painstakingly focusing on each small detail.  But believing God forces each dot into place in our portrait, is to magnify the meaning of specific events, causing us to wrongly think that God is a God of those moments.  We slowly become terrified that we might get one thing wrong, terrified that though we quest for perfection in Christ, we are yet imperfect.  And in the end we forget that we must keep painting – because that is what we are called too – to follow the risen Lord in a world of unknowns.

May God free you from the fear that forces us to see our lives as a plan – a series of ordained moments.  My mother’s death was not part of God’s plan, but in it I found Gods purpose, because I continue to live on with the joy of the memories and faith she gave me.  May you come to know that God has something greater for you, His precious child – a purpose.  May love and beauty resound in the portrait of your life.   May you be free of fear, and be called to the loving rebirth of the Resurrection.

May God hold you in the place of mystery where ends become beginnings.  May this semester be a beginning free from fear of the unknown.  May you continue on towards perfection in love.

Andrew Mails
Director, Wesley-Luther Campus Ministries

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