Posted by: karanoel | May 1, 2019

Waves of grace

Writing is how I process; how tangled highways of thoughts and emotions become a single, clearly marked road on which I can journey forward with peace. But if it were only that, I wouldn’t need a blog; my journal would suffice. It is in the sharing that so much of my healing comes. I don’t fully understand it, but it is powerful. As I thought about and wrote my last post, tears flowed freely and my heart was achy and tender to the touch. And then, in the single moment I shared it with you, all was well with my soul and another part of my healing felt complete. So thank you for reading this blog and being such a significant part of my healing. Thank you also for your loving comments and prayers, which encourage me more than you can possibly know.

***

Easter came. We went to church as usual, although a different one than our norm, and to my parents’ house for an Easter egg hunt and a scrumptious lunch prepared by my mom. But in between those two events was a visit to the beach where Cole and I took a magical walk long ago. My prayers for sun seemed fruitless as the forecast remained overcast… a big fat cloud with no welcoming sun peeking out. I figured the plentiful clouds we experienced at church would only thicken as we got closer to the beach. That’s usually the way it works. But not this day.

When our feet touched the sand, the only clouds left in the sky were puffy white ones on the distant horizon behind us, leaving a perfectly exposed sun to warm our skin against the fresh, brisk breeze. My brother, Christian, was already there, waiting a ways off while he watched dogs happily romping by the shore. He left the joyful scene to meet us at our chosen patch of beach between two lifeguard towers. John, Chase and I kicked off our shoes and headed down to the shore to do what we felt called to that day: scatter Cole’s ashes.

In the exact spot we chose, as though placed by the hand of God, was a large and beautifully formed piece of driftwood. Never before have I seen anything like it on a beach in our area. It was like a reserved seat of honor; an invitation to lay down our burdens and watch this sacred work God is doing. Not a soul was in sight, save a handful of surfers carried by waves in the distance.

We hadn’t planned anything in particular. There was no formality; no ceremony. That’s not who Cole was. Instead, we talked a while and shared stories of this quirky boy – our son, nephew, brother; our friend – who changed our lives forever. Christian lovingly joked about the choice to place the ashes of a guy who had always loved confined spaces in the wide open ocean. Cole would have laughed at that and I couldn’t help but do the same. But Christian thought Cole would appreciate the sentiment, and pointed out that there was no better depiction of our unconventional relationship than the experience it represented. I think that is true. And it makes me smile.

Without really discussing it, we decided to take turns scattering small batches of ashes into the gentle waves lapping on the wet sand. John, my rock these past nine months and caretaker of all things practical, had brought what we needed to accomplish that. Chase brought a childlike lightness of heart and a desire to go first. Not wanting to get his feet wet, he dispatched his load before reaching the water – a blunder that made me think we should have talked this thing out first or at least explained the gravity of the day. But almost immediately, a wave came to swoop up the ashes and carry them out to sea, leaving no trace of Chase’s mistake.

We continued on, quietly, one by one, scattering ashes in the shallows until the vessel was empty and our mission was fulfilled. We all felt lighter, I could tell. Relieved. Chase wrote Cole’s name in the sand; brothers still. We told funny stories and we laughed. Cole always loved to make us laugh. He would be delighted to know that he still does.

I can’t say it was easy, but it wasn’t heartbreaking in the way I would have expected. Cole doesn’t inhabit that body anymore and I can’t pretend he does. It was cast off like an old snake skin that is no longer needed. Or maybe more like an old wine skin that can’t hold the new wine of his resurrected life. That, I think, was why the Lord led me to do this on Easter. To remember that He conquered death and removed its sting – for Cole, for me, for whoever will accept what He accomplished, not only the forgiveness purchased on the cross but the new life freely given through the empty tomb.

Like Chase, Cole wasn’t able to make it to the water with his burden. He left his mistake in a pile of ashes on dry ground, visible to all. But thank God that He doesn’t require us to make it to the great ocean of His love. He doesn’t demand that we figure it out and get there. Instead, His love sends wave after wave of unfathomable mercy and grace to meet us exactly where we are – no matter how far from the shore. His love, through Jesus’ brutal death on the cross, washes away our every blunder; our every shortcoming; all of our hurt and disappointment, leaving not a single trace. And Jesus’ resurrection is an invitation to us all to jump into the depths of new life, completely enveloped in unfailing love and unending joy.

This is the grace that rushed forward to meet Cole. There was no shaming, no finger pointing. No irreversible blunder left on the sand forever more. Only cleansing waves of grace that not only washed away his sin, but carried him into the wide open love of the Father, which is exactly where he always belonged. Where we all belong. Thank you, Jesus, for making the way.

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Responses

  1. You are all so loved by me.

    • I always feel wrapped up by your love. It is the best. Thank you.

  2. Kara, as always beautifully written. Our small Christian school just lost a sweet girl to suicide this past week. She left this world the night before her 17th birthday. Sydney, as well as so many of the girls at Northland Christian have really been struggling with this loss. There is a lot of grief rolling through these fragile hearts and it is so good to hear your stories of strength, courage, and peace through the storm and to understand that grieving is good and natural but there is hope in the end because of Christ and His victory over death. One of my favorite quotes: “Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith. But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Easter! “It is finished!” The power of Easter! What a wonderful day to have scattered Cole’s ashes and to celebrate his life, the life of his Savior and victory over death!!!! Love you sister! Keep writing! It is therapy for us all! ❤️

    • I am so sorry to hear about the loss of that young girl. If only she could have known how important her life was. I will be praying for Sydney and all the others in the wake of that heartbreak. May the Easter message be found in their hearts every day to come until all sorrow is replaced by hope and joy. Thank you Jesus! That Bonhoeffer quote is so good. I’ve never heard it before. Love you girl. Xoxoxo

  3. What a precious day. Bitter sweet but lovely…..💗

    • Exactly so. Thank you Pam ♥️

  4. Kara:

    We still marvel at the incredible grace you walk in. May God continue to show you His mercy for something that takes many people down and out. You are being uplifted…

    Paul & Karen

    >

    • The thing that continues to surprise me is how much the lord has used this tragedy to download a deeper understanding of his character and his love. It is so sweet and so safe. I am grateful for the way he has held me tight. So very grateful.

  5. To say thank you seem so empty but this was beautiful I understood the driftwood and I understood the meaning our Lord Jesus Christ on the beach with the you blessings chaplain Susan

    On Wed, May 1, 2019, 11:12 AM where waves grow sweet karanoel posted: “Writing is how I process; how tangled highways of > thoughts and emotions become a single, clearly marked road on which I can > journey forward with peace. But if it were only that, I wouldn’t need a > blog; my journal would suffice. It is in the sharing that s” >

    • Thank you so much Susan. It is such a gift that you can see Jesus in the driftwood and that day. It is amazing how very present He has been and I’m sure will continue to be. Xoxo


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