I saw the couple standing across from me and my heart broke all over again. I pried my gaze away but the next place I looked was another couple, arm in arm. And then another. Everywhere, couples standing together, being there for each other. It made me want to scream.
So I turned my eyes to the flowers on the casket and tuned in to the preacher's words. This time it was my uncle who'd gone to Heaven, his departure only four weeks after our last big loss. The one that shattered our home and ripped me in half.
The preacher droned on. "Until He comes again, death is our only exit from this life...." I didn't want to listen to the words I so desperately needed to hear. Being at a funeral again this soon was killing me and I just wanted to get out of there. So I looked away from all those infuriating the couples, away from the casket, and toward the fresh mound of dirt only a few footsteps away. The urge to scream vanished as waves of grief overcame me. How can the broken pieces of a soul keep on shattering? But sometimes they can.
All these women have their husbands by their side and mine is under that pile of dirt.
As the preacher wrapped things up, the mound beckoned me. When I reached it I fell to my knees and rested my hands on the dirt, the anger rising up again. How could you do this to me? You should be here with the kids and me, not down there. We need you.
But the closest I could get to him was a handful of dirt.
So I cursed my circumstances and squeezed that dry, dusty dirt in my furious fist and watched it fall through my fingers to the ground. Again I fought the urge to scream because how rotten is it to hold a handful of worthless dirt instead of the thing you really want?
But oh how much like that dirt are the things we treasure in this life. The more tightly we clench them, the more easily they slip away. So I knelt there longing to touch the one who'd left me, despising my fistful of stupid sorry dirt, knowing my yearnings were futile because none of it would bring him back.
How much more easily I could've borne it all if only I'd known the seeds God would sow in that ugly-brown mound of dirt. If only I'd realized the amazing things He can do through heart-wrenching circumstances like mine. If only I'd understood that losing this love would drive me to my one True Love and into the deepest love relationship of my life.
When my babies were little my Granny used to ease my germ-conscious mind by telling me that kids need a certain amount of dirt to be healthy. She was probably right, but now I'd take it a little farther than that. Today I'd say that sometimes the dirt is what makes life worth living.
Even still, God is using that wretched mound of dirt to sow into me the seeds of love and mercy and healing, and to root me firmly in Him. To feed me, grow me, prune me, and transform me into someone who's finally starting to get it, someone who is living the abundance of life in Christ. The growing pains have been more agonizing than I can articulate, yet more life-giving than I ever dreamed.
I'll never stop thanking God for all He's done in me and for the new life He's given me. And to think it all begin with a wretched pile of dirt....