Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Meet Me Here

I'm writing this post from home, at my kitchen table.

I'm home, at my kitchen table because I was fired on Monday. And the reasons I was given were specious, and my replacement was already in the building, ready to be announced.

So, one day shy of the three month anniversary of my life's biggest tragedy, I've got a whole new one to ponder and explore.

God's promise is that he'll meet me here. So, come, Lord Jesus.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dance In Peace, Michael Zechariah Clements

On my way home January 28, Jenny told me that I really didn't want to see Zoe's frail lifeless body. She wasn't there, she told me.

So I didn't. I hang on to the last picture I took and even now, I close my eyes and try to remember what her smooth face felt against my cheek. Hear her laugh - best she could - when we played.

I think what destroys us parents is that Zoe is all better and we have to wait to see her. She can sing now, sing better than her mama, but we have to wait to hear it. That she laughs and can't stop talking like her brothers, but barring Jesus' return, we're stuck with piecing together our projection of what she looks like. And wonder if we'll know her, and she'll know us. On this earth, even after 96 weeks and 4 days, Zoe could barely lift her leg with a shoe on it.

Now her form is glorified and if you'd meet her, if you didn't know better, you'd want to bow down and worship her instead of the Glorifier inside her.

Bittersweet. Sometimes...heck, all the time, that's the best we get as parents. I raise my kids to grow up and be God followers, to love each other and work hard, and believe. Zoe did. And so do the others. But...I don't want them to go.

Bittersweet is what I'd call my relationship with my brother, Shane Clements. I found him on Twitter, a little over a year ago, asking us all for prayers for little Michael, even before Michael was born. He, unfortunately...yet fortunately...shares my torture. Minus 92 weeks and a day.

I never met Michael but I figure he's like his daddy, pressing and seeking God's heart, even right now. He's complete now, and his dad saw him broken and loved him all the same. Shane wanted Michael whole again, and Shane got his wish. After 17 days.

Michael is dancing with Zoe and he never had to know what it's like to lose, never had to learn what torture even means. Glorify. That's what he knows. Magnify.

And when God sees Shane someday, Shane's going to hear words I'll tell him now, but nowhere nearly as perfect or complete: You did it right, Shane. I'm so proud of you. Well done.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fly Away

We went to Destin almost two weeks ago. It's the last spot our entire family vacationed together, and it is, to a person, our favorite place in the world. The stretch of beach called Miramar has clear blue Gulf and powder-fine sand. When we visit, it's always idyllically warm, no bugs, just lots of suntan lotion and a day split between the beach and the pool.

Jenny walked down the beach, back to where we were last year, and as she walked, she discovered a little shell that we have all called "butterfly shell" because it looks like two wings joined almost invisibly in the middle. She brought her butterfly shell home.

A few days later, I went out at low tide. I just like it when the water's receded and sand bars protrude, as if you're there at Earth's first day, the first person to stand on a never-discovered island. I had no intention of doing anything but walking and listening to the waves, but I'm my father's son, and I saw flecks of beauty revealed in the receding water. Beautiful shells. I picked some up, and after a few steps, became selective. 

That day I found some beautiful butterfly shells. Must have been the season for them. I didn't want to crush them, and being improperly prepared, I just held my shells in my right hand as I wandered down the shore.

As I returned, my hand was mostly full. Incredible colors, some intriguing fossilizations, some just perfect. I kept the butterfly shells on the top of my stack, so I wouldn't break them. 

A funny thing happened.

A gust of wind would blow, and a butterfly shell would catch the breeze, and fly out of my hand. I'd stop, hustle to the shell before it was recovered by water and sand, put it gently back into my hand, and keep walking. 

And it happened again. And again. And being my father's son, I laughed. Because Dad always found the appropriate amount of humor in things by imagining someone watching himself as he was doing something. Here I was, middle-aged man, walking down the beach, chasing shells flying out of my hand. 

I couldn't hold the butterfly shells too tightly - they might break. And I couldn't keep them from catching the breeze. If I was going to take them back to our room, I'd have to keep chasing them.

We can't hold on to them tightly enough. We still can't. Whatever my dad and Zoe began as, they were made to fly away. 


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