I have started reading John Goldingay's reflection and remembrance of his wife, Remember Ann
. I have had the book awhile and have been fearing reading it. I knew John and Ann during my days at Fuller Seminary. Ann was diagnosed with MS early in their relationship and John took care of his wife throughout their forty year marriage. I remember Ann from when my future in-laws met her durning the New Years Day Rose Parade. John and Ann lived at an apartment across from the start of the parade. The famous grandstand stood opposite. She no longer could walk or talk, and had to remain silent with her thoughts as she watched the Parade pass by her. John and Ann had a certain number of tickets to allow friends and family to share the parade. We, my future wife and her parents and me, made the list. Ann had a beauty to her and a presence that was nothing short of spiritual. But taking care of her was physically exhusting. Like all of life, it was hard work in its beauty.
I made the acknowledgements. But I fear reading it on two fronts. First, my son has NF-1 and it may be a severe form. I don't know if I have the strength to go through if I know what that means long term. Better in such journeys to only dealing with whats in front of you. I remember when a friend from Colorado was looking up at the top of Mount of the Holy Cross mountain. Seeing the top he could not imagine making to the top. I had been on the top already, by taking on step a time. I did not what to deal with seeing the top from John's story. Second, I am dealing with a persistent Glaucoma problem. I fear being a blind husband to my wife, and undue burden up her, especially if our son also might need care. It was to overwhelming.
Last night, the three of us, wife, son and me, sat a the dinner table and laughed. My two year old laugh with a deep laugh that filled his whole being over something little. I saw God in this moment. I found the courage to read a friend's story. Tears mixed with laughter, this is what I am grateful for. This does not change the devil's choice
that my wife and I will have to make. Nor does it change the possible terrors my son will have to face. But sharing the story, as John does, somehow makes more alive. Below is a poem I wrote when I found out Ann had passed away. In it I remember what many forget about the Gospel is about being fully alive and fully alive with others.
The Early Church Father St. Irenaeus of Lyons famous quote about the meaning of Gospel, comes to me through the giggles of my son, “The glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God”
In the Valley of Life
In memory of Ann
The music exists
intime, in silence,
and in the valley of the bones before the prophet,
the mortal, spoke. The dryness of the land
lacked the wind of life before the God’s
asked theprophet if the bones
could find flesh again and dance asa living
people. Demanding an answer,
Mute to the fracturesof our time.
Snap, and we are orphans. Crackle,and life
Dissipates like the smoke
From an extinguished
Beeswax purplecandle. The still hot
Liquid of stilled blood longs tomove as if
It remained a springtime brook.
On the crossplanck
Where the points of the valleymeet,
We answer with a song, only Godcould know,
of cold loss in our marrow.
God asks the prophet
Again, and we defer ourdifferent
Ignorance. We speak to the bones ofour past,
To our stories. Will they spring up
From out of the ground? Will they speak to us
In a new voice.
The mortal speaks
To the brittle dust and water begins
To turnto blood. The skin needed to contain
The red winecolored
The memories. Notes of forty plus
yearmarriage begin to play the dignity of Ann.
Through the silence,
God’s s libretto through the voice
Of the mortal.The mortal proclaimed the words
Of life, of body broken
For new being. Alive,
Again and for the first time,
Weremember and give thanks and sing
For sweet Ann given to us.