Bittersweet beauty

A foggy back yard catching my eye on 1/18/2017.

A foggy back yard catching my eye on 1/18/2017.

The fog this morning was heavenly. So peaceful, so quiet. I could sense my weary soul waking up to God’s goodness and presence. Mostly, though, was that bittersweet, faith-shaping memory.

On a similar morning long ago—I was a high school junior—fog rolled in like blankets. Taking it in, thanksgiving poured out of me. I gushed about God’s creation, care, and love.  It was a simple prayer prompted by simple weather. By simple, breathtaking fog.

At the same time, unbeknownst to me, a friend named Calvin was driving his motorcycle to school. Fog was thick, and roads were busy. Either Calvin didn’t see the bus, or the bus didn’t see Calvin. Long story short, a kind young man met Jesus that day on a stretch of Florida highway.

The evening news blamed poor visibility. I blamed Someone else.

For longer than I’d like to admit, Calvin’s death messed with me. After all, the very thing I’d praised God for was the very thing that took my friend. For years, I wondered if my prayers that morning had greeted Calvin’s entrance into Heaven. For certain, the fog would always connect us: We’d both met with God because of it. But little else in those days made sense.

Some of it—young death, a good God when bad things happen—still boggles the human mind. But now, decades after mourning that first tragic loss, the fog has largely lifted. And I’ve learned two things: Wrestling with my Lord over hard things is necessary. And leaning in—not pulling away—is the only path to healing.

This morning I remembered that our church youth group sang at Calvin’s funeral, a rendition of “We’ll Understand It Better By and By.” Back then there were sobs. Today, without heaviness, I hummed that old tune. I thanked God for my friend. And I praised Him for beautiful fog.

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