Sunset

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(This is an excerpt from the book Sunset.)

Only when the sun sets do we know how warm and wonderful it is and how its light has touched everything upon which it shines. It brings rich, vibrant, joyful life. Love is like that. Was there any part of me she did not touch? Was there any shadow she could not lighten? So it is not into darkness of grief I go, but into the brightness of remembered joys, all the treasured, tiny happinesses that Laurie gave to me, shared with me, created with me during our lives together. And as she is forgiving, all my faults will melt away through the warmth of her grace, and remembered pains will be forgotten. We all have the promise, in all of our loves, that the sun will rise again in our hearts, for there are wondrous embracings awaiting us. It is just behind an opening door, through the rustling of a parting curtain, at the scented end of the flower, in the light around the earth’s turning where we will receive the best gifts our God and Savior have to bestow.

At this moment Laurie is happy, young, vital, filled with life and energy, walking and speaking and singing without impediments, overflowing with luminous joy. I believe she will shine some down upon me. I can see her through my soul’s eyes, and if she will wait for me and love me still, then the intervening years I may be without her will truly be as those seven years were to Jacob as he labored for his beloved Rachel, “but a few days.” I will be in heaven already. Ultimately, I will have never lived anywhere else.

In the meantime, God has given me His first expectation. It is not a difficult one, but one that must be done thoroughly and with no looking back. It is a housecleaning akin to the one I must soon begin in the closets and drawers of our home with Laurie’s things. It is the cleansing of the spirit, and the mind, and the heart, of every unhelpful, disapproving, painful, or harmful moment, thought, word, or act in the years of our friendship and shared life together—all of hers, all of mine. It is a courteous clearing away of all the mental clutter that might have accumulated over the years, leaving only kindness, warmth, and mercy in the memory. It is a gentle bathing of remembrance, a last baptism, which removes all past imperfections, frailties, or hurts that may hide within the soul and harbor, though ever so small, any unfavorable or judgmental vision of this woman with whom I shared so much of life and whom I knew so well. All is past and may now be graciously and kindly discarded and forgotten, not just forgiven. We are the sum total of all our goodness, all our positives. The deficiencies, the minuses, because they are negative are less than zero—less than nothing—and so they simply pass away, ciphers needing no recognition. That is a dying that is life-giving, the best death one can know.

“Help us, Father, to remove everything those we love would not wish to remain in our hearts, everything that would give them embarrassment, discomfort, or pain.”

We would not devote any corner of our souls for such things; there is room enough only for love and kindness. “You must leave all the ‘motes and beams’ at the door of heaven,” the Lord tells us. “There is no place for them here.”

In the sorting and ordering of the corners and closets of the soul, there will be many things to treasure and reflect upon. All the goodness, the laughter, the holiness, the sacrifice and loving will be held foremost in our spirits. I will think only of Laurie in the highest flowering of her becoming. She is the crowning culmination of all her righteousness from every moment of her life. This is what the Lord anticipates. This is how He sees. It is what all must do, whichever side of the veil we may be on when separation comes. How refreshing and healing it is just to let things go, to sweep the soul pure of the motes and beams of accruing years! How joyous and renewing to visit again and again the sweetness of the heart’s past kind giving—to block out every flaw. Yes, even to clothe reality in memory’s softest colors and make it more beautiful.

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