Thursday, January 16, 2014

Caught Red-Handed

Do you know what the origin of that phrase is? It's to literally be caught with blood on your hands.  Right after you committed the crime, right after you've wronged someone.

This week I've seen two examples of this.  Each awful in it's own way.  Each making me want to turn my head and look elsewhere. 

Problem is, they are happening to people I know.

How do you deal with it when you are caught doing something you shouldn't have done?

I'd like to say I'd confess immediately and throw myself of the mercy of the person I've wronged  Or, on the mercy of the court, depending on the circumstances.

But, would that really be true?

That is not the choice my friends made.

In a story that has made the news all over our state this year,  an 18-year-old girl, driving with her boyfriend and her brother, ran over and killed two little girls in front of their home.   It was the most bizarre of accidents.  The perfect storm of circumstances.  It was dark, the girls were laying in piles of leaves in front of their house, their father, watching them, had run in the house for just a moment.  The 18-year-old came around the corner and purposely drove over the huge leaf pile.  She was being a kid. She had no clue anyone was under there.  One little girl died instantly, the second a short time later.

But, that, as horrific as it was, was not the driver's real problem.

Her real problem was that, when she later learned what she had done, she allowed her brother and her boyfriend to talk her into NOT returning to the scene of the crime,  NOT confessing to anyone and actually running the vehicle through through the car wash to remove evidence.

A few years ago, I worked with that girl.  And her boyfriend.  And her brother.  I spent time with them every day.  For years.

How could she do that?  I would never do that!

Would I?

Maybe not now.  But, back when I was a teenager? Panicked out of my mind about any possible consequences to my actions. No family or school support system to fall back on. No real knowledge of God, or right or wrong.  Just desperate to make it all go away.  

What would I have done back then?

I'm not so sure.

I have another friend, who has had some run-ins with the law.  He's spent the past year of his life trying to get things sorted out.  Trying to go a different way and do things right.

A little while back, he acquired something from a questionable acquaintance.  It was merchandise that, shall we say,  "fell off the back of a truck."   He didn't really know its origin and he used it as his own.  One day, it came to light where this merchandise was from.  He now owned something that legally belonged to someone else.

But, that was not his real problem.

His real problem was that, when he had the opportunity to come clean and return it to it's rightful owner:  he ran.  He tried to hide the object, and wipe away the evidence.   Make it all go away.  Just like the young girl ran the car through the car wash.

But, of course, in that weird way that life has, it didn't go away. 

He was caught with it while hanging out with yet another questionable person.  The circumstances were compounded by his new "friend."  Now he's facing jail time.

Why?  Why is it so hard for us to do the right thing and confess to what we've done?

One of these people knows God in a personal way.  The other doesn't.  But, apparently it didn't make much difference in their choices.

I could look down my nose at them.  Rail on them for not immediately coming clean.  But haven't I been tempted to do the same?

Haven't I done the same? 

Well, in less important circumstances, of course. 

I mean, I didn't run over anyone or have stolen goods or anything.  It wasn't that important when I did it.  It was more like a little "misunderstanding" between people.  Something I really didn't need to bother to confess.  Right?


In Psalm 38 (NLT)  David paints a picture of himself as a man who has done wrong.  We don't know the exact circumstances, but, he tells us he is tormented not just by the enemies that chased him, but by his personal sin against God, sin that he knows exists deep inside.

Because of your anger, my whole body is sick;
    my health is broken because of my sins.
My guilt overwhelms me—
    it is a burden too heavy to bear.
My wounds fester and stink
    because of my foolish sins.
I am bent over and racked with pain.
    All day long I walk around filled with grief.
A raging fever burns within me,
    and my health is broken.
I am exhausted and completely crushed.
    My groans come from an anguished heart.

David, being David, goes straight to the heart of the matter.  He can't control who chases him, he can't control what they are saying about him, but he CAN take responsibility for what he has done.  And he throws himself on the mercy of the only one he knows can make things right.

17 I am on the verge of collapse,
    facing constant pain.
18 But I confess my sins;
    I am deeply sorry for what I have done.

19 I have many aggressive enemies;
    they hate me without reason.
20 They repay me evil for good
    and oppose me for pursuing good.
21 Do not abandon me, O Lord.
    Do not stand at a distance, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
    O Lord my savior.

Whether we've done a big thing or a small thing,  our heart always tells us when we are wrong, when we have hurt someone else and hurt God.  We feel it in our mind and our body, just like David did.  God isn't going to hunt us down and force us to confess to something--that will always be our choice.

I just wish that more often, we'd see that it's our only choice.  

The only thing that is going to bring us some peace.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Still a little room on the list

Christmas at our house starts on Christmas Eve.  There's usually some kind of church; the tradition-steeped formal dinner of strawberry waffles with whipped cream; and one present each before we wander off to bed -- or, to some last minute wrapping.

This year, will be a little different because one of our kids has moved away, is working,  and won't be home till late afternoon on Christmas Eve.  It is not lost on me that this is probably just the beginning of Christmases that are a "little different."  Up to now, children who have been away at school, slide in several days before the holiday and are sitting around the table on the 24th.  But, I know we are not long from children who don't make it for the 24th, and children who, perish the thought, may not make it home for Christmas some years at all.  The times they are a changin' and I'm running as fast as I can to keep up.

All this has caused me to think about who I honor at Christmas with presents and cards.  

Usually, the Husband and I buy things for each other and the kids.  We don't usually buy for other family members because we have lived away from them for quite a while.  Now that the kids are older, they buy us presents too---gone are the days of the homemade potholders and the snowmen decorations, I'm afraid.  These years we sneak around behind each other's backs, hiding boxes from Amazon and gift cards to our favorite coffee shops.

One tradition we have held to, since the first year we were married, has been to give baked goods to people. We have been known to crank out a couple hundred Christmas treats in a season. Back in the beginning, we gave things to our dearest friends.  As the years went by, we included teachers and pastors.  The list has morphed every Christmas. 

The treat making is in full swing for this year.  We will always give to dear friends and neighbors. (Not to mention, probably eat a few pounds of them, ourselves...)  But, this Christmas, I am also giving to some people I don't always think of: people who serve us, and people who are not always front and center.

Would you believe, I have discovered a lot more people in the latter two catagories than in the former two?

Do you have people like that too?

Like our dentist, who held our hands, literally and figuratively, through the long death of my mother. and who I know, for a fact, prays for us on a regular basis.

Or our vet, who has saved the life of The Wonder Dog more times than I'd like to count, this year.  It just occurred to me the other day that he lives down the street from us. Why didn't I ever think of taking him a plate of treats?

Or the people who help us care for our garden and clean our home?  The list goes on and on and on. Maybe I won't be able to hit them all, but it's starting to occur to me that these are the people who make my life go round. These are the people I want to remember and show my gratitude to at the end of another year.  On my favorite birthday of all.

This morning,  I watched our church present Christmas gifts to our two pastors.  It was great.  I totally appreciate their service and devotion to us each and every week.  If I didn't believe what they are doing for our group and, more importantly, for our community as a whole, I wouldn't be going to church there.

But, it made me think of a lot of other people.  The ones who serve and serve and serve, but don't stand on the platform.  And the ones who there every week, but are not noticed.  The ones who are standing on the fringes when people exchange Christmas cards with each other after service.  When people innocently call out to each other in the foyer:  "Ok, I'll see you there!" It never seems that anyone calls out to them.

These are the people on my list this year.  Some will get treats, some will get cards and some will get thank you's.  They're making my life a little better,  a little easier, a little happier, each week of the year. And I want them to know I am grateful.

It's not too late to write out one or two very simple cards,  handed to someone with love.  It doesn't matter if they get it before Christmas.  It just matters that they get it.

So, what about you?  Who's on your list? 

P.S.  I'm no Martha Stewart, but, here's a treat you can whip up in no time---I picked it because it is the easiest thing I know, and it was a big hit last week.  I used square pretzels :)

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

I'm not gonna sugar-coat this, I've had a bad morning.  After moping around, I found myself sitting at the bottom of the Christmas tree in the family room with the family dog.

The joke at our house, is that if there were a fire or other natural disaster, we should run to save the photo albums and the Christmas ornaments.  There is really nothing else in our home that has much sentimental, (or monatary!) value.

The Husband and I come from families who give children ornaments at Christmas.  My husband has an (ever-shrinking) collection of delicate ornaments given to him by his German grandmother.  I have my own 50's glass-blown ornaments from my mom.  For many years, we've given each of our children at least one ornament each Christmas.  Sometimes they are glass, sometimes wood or fabric, but we try to tie each to a "theme" -- something of importance that happened to them in the preceeding 12 months.

As a result, our Christmas tree is a lot more than a decoration: it represents the years of our lives.

But, sitting there, this morning, I realized something else.

It's also a picture of faithfulness.

I actually have two Christmas trees now--the main one, (the REAL one,) in the Family Room and a tall, slim artificial one,  in the corner of the kitchen.  Two trees is what it takes to house the overflow of ornaments that seem to multiply each year.

The main tree, always has big colored lights, the way I remember my Mom decorating it when I was little.  This tree never has white light, or small lights.  It just doesn't happen.


When I looked above my head this morning, I realized, that, with very few exceptions, I can probably name who gave us each ornament and which time of our life it represented.

There's a little wooden bear, wearing a festive bow-tie, on a red embroidered felt heart.  The words penned on the back, say that was given to the Son in the year he was born.  It was came to us as part of a large package from our church, filled with food and gifts for the kids. That was 1991.  Four months after the Son was born, and three months after the Husband had surgery, became disabled and didn't work for 3 years.  The year our church family knew that without them, our kids weren't going to have much of a Christmas.  

Each year, the Husband has tried to pick out a pretty glass ornament for the Daughter.  I can see a glass-blown cat-and-the-fiddle, the fiddle long ago fallen off in some storage box.  There's a little copper-colored clock, for the year she started telling time.  There's a polished wooden Pooh bear for the years she was transfixed by the stories of the Hundred Acre Wood. 

The Son has all manner of animals--dogs, bison, monkeys, wolves.  If it is real and lives, he has a Christmas ornament that represents it.

The Husband has a little cap, gown and scroll for the year he got his teaching degree, along with many ornaments that are various incarnation of fish and disco balls. (The latter, another family joke.) 

One of my favorites is a little metal Craftsman-style farm house with a porch.  I had seen it at a Hallmark store.  The Husband bought it for me, even though I knew we didn't have the money for Hallmark ornaments that year.  

He knew how much I wanted it.

Woven between these, are the little hand-made ones from the children.  Snowmen the Daughter made in Girl Scouts.  Melted crayon creations from the Son in pre-school.  Ornament after ornament with little pictures from church or school.  Documenting the years of their lives.

Each ornament tells a story, about the giver and the recipient.  But, it also tells a story of where we were that year.  In California, in the Pacific Northwest.   Teetering on the edge of poverty, having more than enough.  In debt, out of debt.

And each year, whatever happens, the ornaments keep coming.  After more than 30 years, we are still here.  Still weaving in and out of tests and trials and recessions and illness and bankruptcy and inheritance.  Sometimes in bliss, and sometimes feeling like we are on the brink of our sanity.  Still here.  And He still still has our backs.

The year the Son received that little bow-tied bear, I  thought it was the end of the world.  No jobs, no health, no money, two babies and a completely disabled husband.  Surely a Christmas couldn't get any worse than this one.  But, it wasn't the only hard Christmas we had--or, will have.  And we certainly have enjoyed our share of nice ones.

Scripture says the Lord goes before us, and is our rear guard.  And when Christ entered the picture, the door was opened for Him to do yet one more thing:  He implanted the actual Spirit in our hearts.

This is the picture I see when I look at our tree.  He is behind us, inside us, in front of us.  Walking through every single thing we go through, good or bad, difficult or wonderful.

Holding our hand.  And never, ever leaving our side.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blue Ribbon


If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I think very highly of my children.

The Daughter is almost 25, and The Son is 22. When they were little, I thought they were exceptional, and, I'm not just saying that because they were beautiful physically.

Although, of course, they were...

They each have a type of maturity that it's hard to put your finger on.  People used to call it being self-possessed.  A way of carrying yourself --and a way of reaching out.

As they've grown up, life has not always been easy.  Physically, emotionally, financially, academically;  they've dealt with a lot. As young adults, they've each been through significant trauma.  But, I've watched the way they've never lost their connection with God, with each other or with us. And, I've seen how they've let God use what they've been through to make them stronger.

With very, very few exceptions, I've been proud of the decisions I've watched them make.  When others say nice things about them, I'm proud for their sakes, and (I hope,) I'm quick to turn that credit to God.

Because that IS where the bottom line is.  It is not our parenting.  It is God reaching out to them, through us.

But, there is something I just realized recently.

These little people, who grew to be such fine adults, who are studying, and working,  and making their mark for God out in the world.  These two people are---wonder of wonders--still in relationship with me!

They talk to me and they pray for me.  They care about the things I go through.  They are quick to pour conviction on my head if they think I'm wrong, and just as quick to praise me when they see me doing right.  They are there when I need something, and just as fast to push me away when I cross those ever-widening boundaries between parent of a little child, and mentor of an full-fledged adult. They are not perfect, and neither am I.  When iron sharpens iron, we all say fierce, angry words and we all have to apologize and ask forgiveness.  But somehow, they still hang in there with me. They have grown to be people who stand on their own, but they are still willing to take the time to bless me. 

People tell me they are working for the Kingdom of God.  I see it myself, every day. But they take the time to love me too.  And that is when I realize that after all the years of raising, and training, and worrying, and working so hard to give it back to God,  I've somehow taken the first place prize. I've gotten the Blue Ribbon at the fair.  

And I am, the winner.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Sad Relief

The other day, a friend of mine described the death of my mother as: "a sad relief."  I'm liking that phrase more and more.  It captures the mixture of feelings you experience after someone has had a long and difficult illness.  Sad, for obvious reasons.  A relief, because this long, long trip is finally over.

Lately, I've been working out the business of "returning to normal."  Or, better said, moving to a new normal of sorts. 

As my mom's life ends, so does the job that I've taken on for the last four years.  I've been doing all kinds of housekeeping tasks, filing endless documents, making phone calls to straighten out my Mom's business affairs, faxing, mailing, writing, sorting.  When I'm not doing paperwork, I am weeding through years of pictures and furniture, what to keep, what to store, what to give away.  It seems I've been doing this for a long time.  And, now it's coming to an end.

Recently, I've also had some time to do some of the things I enjoy.  Reading, writing, taking pictures.  Expect to see more photos on this blog soon---as a matter of fact, don't be too surprised if the whole look of this blog changes.  It may even split down the middle into two separate blogs---I'm not sure yet.  I am working with a good friend who knows a lot more than I do about the online life.  She's giving me ideas and I am mulling them over in my head.

Will I go out and get a job? Will I continue working at home? Will I pursue more ministry? Will I start to develop some of the career stuff I've been toying with for years?

Time to change a few things out.  Time to move towards the new normal.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Figuring it Out

She thought she had it all figured out.

I don't know how many times she told me: "When I die,  all my paperwork is in the desk.  Everything you need. It's all taken care of."

Her desk was neat as a pin. There, she had her bank account number and the numbers of her attorney and her accountant.  She also had a lot of other papers she thought we might need.

"And, be sure to go look in my safety deposit box," she always said.

In the box, was her will, the deed to her house, along with old deeds of houses she had bought many years ago.  Family death certificates, both of her wedding licenses, special papers.  All the things that make a life.

But, nothing happened to her like she thought.

Like any of us, thought.

The end came slowly.  Very, very slowly.

The years before the end, gave her time to stack boxes of papers in the dining room.  Taxes, receipts, old cards from friends, packages of pictures never put in albums.

"These are the things I haven't gotten to yet," she said.

And I thought she was just busy.  Too busy to sort, add, put away.

I came to her house twice just to help her file things.  I was armed with fresh new boxes and bright colored file folders and lots of big paper clips.  I tried to sort, I tried to add, I tried to put away. But the more I went on, the more confused I got.

"Do you know you have things mixed in here from different years?" I asked one day in desperation. My mother never misfiled things . She lived and died by her systems.  Nothing out of order.

"Oh, don't worry about all that," she said.  "I told you I'll put it away later.  Let's visit.  Let's go out to lunch.  Just leave that there and I'll do it later."

And, still, I didn't understand what was happening.

Months went by; visits passed.

And then, one night, just after Christmas, my husband and I flew to her home in a panic.  Her younger brother had just had a massive stroke.  He couldn't speak.  He could barely walk.  He was going to be released from the hospital that day.  And, at the age of 83, she had called to tell us that she was going to bring him home and take care of him.

"There's no way she going to be able to do that," my husband said, shaking his head.

"She sounds strange on the phone," I said.

"Strange, how?"

"Just strange.  I don't know.  Something's off."

"Her brother just had a stroke!"

"It's not that.  It's something else."

And still I didn't understand.

Until I saw her.

She had lost weight, but it was more than that.  She was wandering.  Wandering in her own home.

My mother never wandered.  At her sickest, she was moving around,  doing "things",  giving endless orders to others.  My mother never wandered.

She looked at the huge pile of boxes that had materialized in the dining room.

"Oh! All those taxes! I've got to get to that, and clean it up!"

And, then, that night, after we put my uncle to bed, it finally started to make sense.

She was furious when my uncle would ring the little bell we'd given him to ring if he needed something.

"He just rang it a few minutes ago!" she said angrily.  "Why doesn't he just go to sleep?!"

She yelled at him for not picking his clothes up off the floor of his room.  She yelled at her other brother who came to visit.  She complained loudly about how no one in her family cared about her anymore.  About how no one would help her.

"She's under stress," my husband said.

"Nobody understands!" she growled.

But, I thought maybe I did.

When I took her to the doctor, a week or so later, he confirmed my suspicions.

"I'm pretty certain she has Alzheimer's Disease," he told me over the phone, a few days after he'd given her a series of tests in his office.

"You mean dementia," I said.

"No.  I believe she has Alzheimer's Disease.  They are different.  And she shows clear symptoms of having Alzheimer's."

And I spent the next four years, learning exactly what those symptoms were.

We moved my uncle to a nursing home, and moved her out of her house into retirement living. She loved being in such a beautiful place where they "did everything" for her.  Time after time, we invited her to live with us, and time after time she refused.  Independent to the end, she insisted she had everything she needed and she wanted to stay in her own apartment.

Until one day, three years later, when she had a heart episode, and we told her that, like it or not, she was going to have to move up where we lived.  She took it fairly well, the illness sapping some of her usual feistiness.  Before she could think too much about it, we packed her things, put them on a truck and flew her out to the state where we lived.

Things happened fast after that, but those who know the illness well, know that any kind of move or change of surroundings will bring that on.  She recognized her grandchildren, and my husband and I, but, had trouble remembering people she had just met.  She talked a lot about what had had happened in her childhood, but couldn't remember that I'd visited earlier in the week.  Little by little, the childhood stories changed from happy memories to angry ones.  During one period,  she'd entertain me during every visit, with a huge litany of all the things my father had done to her.

"He was not a nice person, " she said confidentially.

This was not news to me.

The two things that never left her until the very end were her sense of humor and her willingness to share whatever was hers.  My husband tells of the many times he brought her candy, (their mutual vice,) and how the first thing she'd do was break it in half and offer him a piece.

Late in her illness, she was still making jokes about herself and other residents. Her voice had gotten lower and quieter, but suddenly, when you least expected it, you'd hear her laugh at something funny.  She kept her wild, yet sophisticated sense of humor until close to the end, never missing the little ironies.

"She's crazy," she'd whisper about Gretchen, her next-door neighbor in the memory care wing where she lived.

Gretchen was a woman who walked from room to room, mumbling things that were often non-sensical.  Often, she took objects and moved them to other places.

"You know, there are a lot of crazy people here,"  Mom would add,  confidentially.

"And you're not?" I'd always say.  It was an old joke we'd shared between us.

"Oh, no!  I'm perfect!" she'd add quickly.  And then, she'd laugh.

Her real decline began in the beginning of that summer.  She became more stubborn and more angry.  Childlike in her refusal to do certain things. Combative with the caregivers she'd liked so much.  She hit a couple of residents and yelled at others.  We put her in the hospital to manage her medications because the care facility couldn't have her acting so violently.  The first hospital she went into, she thought she'd trick them into breaking out.

"I'd like to go for a little walk down that hall," she told some poor nurse, innocent to her wiles.

"Sure!" the nurse chirped cheerfully, wheeling her chair about 500 yards down a straight hallway that led to the next building.

"Now it's time to go back to your room," she said in a sing-song voice, after they'd made the long trek.

"No.  No, I'm going home now," Mom said, starting to get out of her wheelchair and moving toward the door.

The nurse later told us that Mom was wheeled back to her room with a dark scowl on her face and both arms crossed in front of her chest.

Later, at another hospital, she pleaded with me over and over to "go home."

"You have to stay here until you get well, Mom," I said, "then you can go back to your home."

The next time I visited, I mentioned that she's probably be released the next day.

"Oh, no," she said.  "I like it here.  People are very nice to me.  I'm not going back to that other place," and she crossed her arms in defiance.

When the end finally came, it came with all the bells and whistles that Alzheimer's likes to bring.  Mom had stopped speaking for the last few weeks, except to mumble a word or two that we could not understand.  She was thin and frail and seemed so helpless.  Until I saw the caregivers try to put a small assistive device on her lap to keep her from falling out of her wheelchair.

First, she slunk down and tried to squeeze her tiny body out through the bottom of the chair.

"Oh, she's trying to escape," the caregivers smiled cheerfully.  "She does this a lot."

Then, as they gently tried to hoist her up, the woman who hadn't spoken in weeks, suddenly yelled out angrily: "NO! "I DON'T LIKE THAT!!"

Just in case we had any doubts.

At the end, she fought for hours past the time nurses thought she would last.  The day before she died, the kind hospice nurse said:  "If this were anyone else, I'd say she'll be gone in an hour or two.  But, since this is your mother, I'd say she could go on like this for a long time."

Thankfully, she passed away the next day.  She loved autumn and the changing colors of the trees, more than almost anything.  Born in September, and dying one morning in October;  there was something lovely, and very fitting, about the timing of her passing.

Alzheimer's Disease is not a kind master.  Patients go through a string of indignities, and they say and do things they would never dream of.  It often takes them past the brink of sanity and squeezes the last bits of life out of them.

But, is there really any "good" way to for death to come?  Can we  ever be fully ready for something we don't understand?  Something that is so different for each one of us?

No, the victory does not come here.  The victory comes on the other side.  

That was the one thing she always did have figured out.

And so do I.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October Days

These are some of the most beautiful days of the year in the town where I live. Temperatures slip-sliding around in the 70's. Leaves of every color imaginable decorating the trees.  When I was a kid, we used to call this the Indian Summer--probably all kinds of violations of politically correctness in that name now. 

So, it amazes me that these idyllic, golden days should be colored by sadness everywhere I turn.  

My mother is lying in her bed, hanging to her life by the the thinnest of all threads.  She doesn't speak, she doesn't eat, she just looks straight ahead. Autumn is her favorite time of year.  Today, I am going to open her window blinds in hopes she'll see the big yellow-leaved oak that is outside her window. It's very warm--she won't need to harbor her perpetual worry about getting a chill.

A few blocks away, a friend and her husband mourn the loss of their two beautiful daughters. They were taken from them Sunday night, during what should have been the most benign of all childhood pleasures:  playing in front of their home in a pile of October leaves.  The driver that accidentally killed them was another child. An 18-year old involved in her own right of passage.  Driving over a huge pile of leaves stacked on the curb of the street.  

She did nothing intentional, nothing illegal.  Just a little Autumn fun. The way kids jump in puddles after the rain.  How was she to know there were two little girls playing underneath?

Back home in California, my dear sister and her school are mourning the loss of one of their precious students. He took his own life this week.  In the midst of a community of young people bubbling with excitement and fresh life, there is a deep sadness.

"Where is your God now?" they taunted Job. 

"Why don't you just curse God and die?" his  wife yelled at him.

I choose to answer as Job did:  My God is in his heaven---even when all is not right with the world.  

Our golden days of Autumn aren't a spark of the brilliance that waits in Eternity for those who have chosen to walk with Him.  

I believe God laughs as he prepares to receive a tiny firecracker of a woman that He has waited many, many years for.  

I believe He opens both of His arms wide as He sees two beautiful little princesses in pink, dancing into his presence.  Twirling and jumping and they make their way towards His throne. 

I believe His eyes are filled with sadness as the tired young boy approaches him.  Yet, He smiles and reaches out to him. Here  is one more whose thoughts will never again torture him as he moves through the door, to live forever in the Light.
We haven't seen, we haven't heard, we can't imagine. 

As my heart, and the hearts of so many of my friends scream out  in turmoil, He whispers to us in a voice that is almost inaudible:

In this World you shall have tribulation---but, be of good cheer, for I have overcome the World.