Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
Around the time my best friend Lynn died from an unexpected and very aggressive form of cancer, I opened my fortune cookie to find this inside:
“Faith is knowing there is an ocean when you can only see the stream.”
At this juncture in my life I could only see the stream, and it was very small, merely a trickle. There was certainly no ocean in sight. Kim (our other best friend) and I had just returned from a grueling trip to the National Institutes of Health where we had been punched in the face with the words, “There is nothing else we can do,” and had worked with her father to get her Angel Flighted home so she could pass her final days surrounded by her loved ones. Yes, I did know there was an ocean, but it was far, far away, and the stream I saw was oh so small.
Recently my cell phone fell into the sink. Normally not a big deal but that cell phone contained two things that were irreplaceable. One, the final text from Lynn telling me she loved me, as well as other comforting texts she had written shortly after my nephew Matt passed at age 29 just six months prior to Lynn’s passing. Two, the fortune from my fortune cookie, which had been tucked between the phone and it’s case. I had kept it to remind me that there was indeed an ocean—out there, somewhere.
It had fallen out several times, but never lost. My dear husband finally taped it to my phone to avoid that risk. However, when the phone fell in the sink, the fortune, like the phone and my precious text messages, couldn’t be rescued. I kept the ripped and mangled fortune on my counter until I knew what to do with it.
As I sit down to write today, I know what to do with it. I create the simple picture above and I write. I write of a time that’d I’d rather not remember but is etched indelibly in my memory. I write of messages and words lost. I write of a best friend and a nephew lost, both way too soon. I grieve as I write—tears rolling down my face as I remember all I have lost.
I know the creative process as one that helps us grieve. I know the heart cannot let go of that which it has not grieved. I know that simply putting these words and memories “down on paper” will help. I know all these things in my head. Yet I’m not sure I know them in my bones—in the deepest places where I fear the grief will never subside—in the places that long for days and words and memories long past.
I’m not sure this post will even make much sense—at least to those who’ve never experienced this type of loss. But for those who have, I suspect you know exactly what I’m saying, or not saying, so it seems. All the lost words, read between the lines of fortune cookies and texts, of memories good and bad, of grief and belief.
I’m not exactly sure what Lynn’s passing was supposed to teach all of us. I suspect it was of heaven and the preciousness of life, of a heart that loved so many of us so deeply and richly, and how to be the image of Christ to those we love. For me personally it taught me all these things and a few others—to not be afraid, to just believe, to know there is indeed an ocean—somewhere out there, even if I can only see the stream.
Jody Thomae is the author of God’s Creative Gift–Unleashing the Artist in You: Bible Studies to Nurture the Creative Spirit Within. For more Bible studies like this, you can purchase a copy of her book at: Wipf & Stock Publishers; Amazon and Barnes &Noble. It is also available in Kindle Format.