The Storm Called Dying


My Dad has always been one strong man. I can hardly ever remember him being sick! On the top of his game he seemed to have an answer for most things, even if his answer wasseed-podn’t quite right! Now at the age of 78 he still can be found out in the garden in spring or piling wood in the cold fall for the wood stove. Yet I’ve seen a softening, perhaps a tiredness in his bones. He cries. He is at a loss for words. I would be too. His wife, my Mom, once a real beauty, is losing life slowly from the ravages of cancer. Today they took Mom out of her home of 40 years and put her into a hospice.

I was there this past September for Mom’s 75th birthday. We actually tried to light all 75 candles, give or take a few. The cake looked like an inferno as we sang her birthday song a little quicker than usual! It was a precious moment. The moment I will cherish most, though, was the night I said my deepest goodbye, I held mom in my arms and wept, wept like a baby. I knew she was not getting by this storm, not this time.

People go through storms all the time. Some are deadly! A few days ago an Air Asia plane with 162 people on board flew through what was thought to be a storm-filled cloud. They wanted to ascend higher but permission was denied by the air traffic control tower. The plane disappeared soon after. I’ve flown on countless Air Asia flights, I cannot imagine how frightening it was to the passengers to feel a powerful storm rock their plane. My heartbeat quickens when turbulence barely lifts the plane in that jumpy up and down motion. The only mercy for the people on board of that Air Asia flight was that the storm would not last long. For all the relatives and friends unfortunately the ‘sad winds’ won’t taper off for awhile. I don’t think this was the ‘will’ of God to take that plane down. I know so. It’s just weather patterns and human decisions and untimely happenstance.

Yet I have toyed with this idea of the ‘Allowing’ of God. Seriously, God does allow a lot of awful stuff to happen on this planet! So it makes sense that God allows us to go through storms for reasons beyond our comprehension. Can we bypass a lot of the storms that life throws at us or that we bring upon ourselves? Probably, but not all. Do they always make us stronger or simply prove that we have weak shallow roots? Only we can answer that one for ourselves.

Oswald Chambers says, “The only way God plants His saints is through the whirlwind of His storms. Will you be proven to be an empty pod with no seed inside?” The question at the end of the quote was meant to be a warning, but strikes me as somewhat shocking.Jesus talked a lot about seeds, including the mustard seed, and once said that unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it cannot produce anything anymore. How sad it would be to have lived out life and at the end of it have nothing inside, nothing to release into the final wind. What exactly is the DNA of our seed we need inside of us, that when planted in the ground will produce more seeds and bring forth yet more beauty on the earth? Could it be the smallest seed called the mustard seed of faith?

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I sit here in my thoughts and wish that this slow unrelenting storm called death was shorter for my Mom and for my tired Dad. I hate to see my Mom unable to respond with her mind or with her swollen legs to life’s needs and challenges. I hate to see Dad frail with caring each day and night, for the love of his life. I know, however, enough about seed planting and how the pod dries up and cracks open to release new life and the winds serve in blowing these seeds to new places. For me, Mom and Dad, helped to inspire a faith in us kids. Mom planted seeds, man! I had faith in the goodness of God to get me through to where I needed to be, to grow, to be fruitful. Their faithfulness was an example to me in Asia and now Europe.

Wherever you may be now, whatever you are going through, and I do know there are people feeling the blowing storms even now and it doesn’t take much to cause tears to drop for you. I want to encourage you to have even the tiniest tad-wee faith in your life-whirlwind. His eye can see you there where you are and He will see you through somehow! You’ll also be one of those saints planted by God right where you need to be! And when the final storm comes upon you, you will have given the world something to thank the God above about.

Sunsets and Mothers


I made one last call to my home before I left for Toronto’s Pearson Airport. Patricia and I were readying to fly back to Paris. My mother’s voice was clear, yet I knew instantly something was a little off. Medication does that, the sharpness is dulled a bit. She told me the barn next door burnt down to the ground. “It was like a sunset,” she said. Sunset, ah yes, the end of one day getting ready for the brightness of another. I was deeply saddened, yet another familiar signpost of my past gone forever. And I love barns. During this past visit I did get to my home a few times between speaking engagements and I kept taking pics of my teenager-era barn, now a paltry shadow of its glory days.

A paltry shadow of it's former self. Our barn.

A paltry shadow of it’s former self. Our barn.

Relinquishing our past to the sunset isn’t easy.

“Sir, your flight has been canceled,” the kind lady behind the counter said. “But we’ll get you home!” I knew what she meant, we would have many more added hours of travel and an inordinate share of complaints coming from me! Waiting again. Apparently there was another fire at the airport in Montreal where we were to catch another flight. Now I had to wait six hours to fly to New York’s JFK. Not too happy. I guess I don’t like airports or waiting or both!

And then after squishing my legs into my seat space on my final flight I think about Mom, about the smouldering ashes of our next door neighbour’s once-a-beauty of a barn. And then back to Mom and her telling me it was like a sunset. My mom is soon to have her sunset, inoperable cancerous tumours have taken away her ability to walk, to enjoy so much of life. Now she is waiting for that special flight, her sunset, to take her to the place she’s been booked in for a long time, The Father’s House. Waiting. Uncomfortable. Pain. So not at home in her body.

Travel is never easy. Air travel for tall guys like me is very uncomfortable. It challenges all your senses. You never get enough to eat. It doesn’t allow you any rest. It makes you want time to speed up a lot bit faster. “I need to get home, now!” Waiting.

And we all do want to get home, that place where we truly belong. I wrote these thoughts high above the skies in my seat. In a few hours I will descend to my apartment in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. Lower below these fluffy clouds, Mother is probably sleeping in her hospital issued bed, and will likely soon ascend home. Right now we are both waiting, both uncomfortable, yet both knowing the best is soon to come.

Mom’s sunset is not long away. She will enter a paradise of continual joy-days. She’s ready. When I think of the end of my long trip and arriving to my PMom and Iaris-dise, I am strangely warmed. I have many more sunsets to enjoy. As I hold dear the moments of the past, it opens up for me a future panorama of goodness that speaks loud of a better day for all of us. Until my final sunset I will pursue better days for my life, yes, our lives and for the world I call home.