Two weeks before Christmas I took about ten days off from work to enjoy my first real vacation in several years. Although I travel from time to time, usually it’s for business with just a little pleasure tucked in somewhere along the way. Over the past few years of caregiving for my mother I’ve never left town that I haven’t felt like a large piano was strapped to my back. It’s neither enjoyable nor relaxing to travel, whether for business or pleasure, when you’re “on call” and know your plans may change at any moment.
I finished the Christmas deliveries, cards, notes, and remembrances and, with almost giddy anticipation, I packed and prepared to be off on a grand adventure. My sister likes to tease me about travelling with a steamer trunk – I don’t, but admittedly I like to have my “girl stuff” and a few comforts of home with me when I’m away.
After clearing security and a delay in boarding the plane and take-off, I found myself ensconced in a comfortable seat with nothing to do except relax. It felt like a complete luxury to be on the way to my destination without a load of responsibility, duty, and the small cares of my daily world along for the ride. And as the plane slowly gained altitude, I felt my own spirit begin to soar.
I was alive. I inhaled for the sheer joy of breathing. I’d survived fifteen years of elder care and the death of my beloved husband. I felt like I was at last on the way to somewhere – a new place in my life and heart and soul. I was ready to live again in fullness of joy, whatever that might be, however it might happen.
One of the most difficult challenges of grief is waiting – waiting on God, waiting on life to unfold, waiting to feel better, waiting to be better. If we’re waiting on everything to return to the way it was before the death of our loved one, we’re waiting in vain for something that will never happen. But if we’re waiting on the future – working at grief, being kind to our body, caring for ourselves spiritually, allowing ourselves to dream and imagine what may be ahead for us in life – really, we’re waiting to soar.
Think about an eagle soaring through the sky with outstretched wings. It’s a mighty sight, isn’t it? Because of the great lifting power of its wings, an eagle can fly high, soar continually, and stay aloft longer than any other bird. There’s something exciting about the sheer aerodynamic phenomenon that allows an eagle to soar into the sky, so joyful and effortless in its flight.
When we grieve, somewhere deep within we long to soar again. It’s what pushes us to struggle with what’s happened and find within our soul God’s power lifting us up to new heights of life and love and faith. When we wait for God, in time our strength is renewed. We soar with wings like an eagle, upward toward God, in the certainty that God’s lifting power will bring us to spiritual safety and home.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.
Isaiah 40:31 MSG
Keep me this day, O God, in the expectation of soaring. Amen.