Beautiful and terrible things
I have a bad habit of forgetting to empty the pockets of my clothes. This can become slightly problematic when chapstick or a piece of gum makes its way through the washing machine on laundry day. But it can also be a bit of a treat when pulling out a pair of pants after not wearing them for some length of time, only to discover a few dollar bills in the back pocket I never knew I’d been missing.
With the late November snow moving through Iowa a few weeks ago, I was reminded of this particular habit of mine. It came time to pull out my nice winter jacket—the one I hadn’t worn since the last chilly days of early spring. The coat would accompany me to a wedding later that evening, and I wanted to be sure it was in good shape.
As I inspected the pockets, I discovered a pack of tissues, some mints, and a folded up church bulletin. Judging by the contents, the last time I’d worn this particular coat was to a funeral for a dear friend some several months earlier. It didn’t take long for memories of the grief and heartache and tears of that difficult day to resurface.
Now I was preparing to wear this very same coat to the joyful occasion of a wedding that celebrated love and new beginnings.
In that moment, I was reminded of the words of theologian Frederick Buechner, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Do not be afraid.”
I love this little red jacket of mine—purchased at a thrift store several years ago. Who knows the depth of both beautiful and terrible things it’s witnessed. The stories it could tell of both the delight & sorrow it’s seen. The laughter it’s heard and the tears it’s dried.
Not so different from the words of the prophet Isaiah, who repeats over & over again the message from God, “Do not be afraid, for the Lord is with you.”
Oh the beautiful and terrible things that God has seen through our experiences, as well. What a gift to have the promise of God to accompany us along life’s journey that includes so much goodness and so much struggle. The One who weeps alongside us is the very same God who finds joy in our happiness, takes pleasure in our contentment, and promises forgiveness in our not-so-perfect moments.
In the midst of all sorts of wonderful and challenging (and sometimes wonderfully challenging) experiences, we have a God who faces it all alongside us. A God who says to you and me, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Do not be afraid.”
– Katy Warren, associate pastor