How does a man remain so resilient in the face of death? I met him at the church I’ve been attending recently, and since I met him his mother has been battling cancer. She died a week ago Wednesday, on Ash Wednesday. He was back in church this week, and seemed to be doing surprisingly well, all things considered. He somehow looked fragile. He looked visibly shaken, and you could hear his voice wavering, but he was there. He looked like he could break down crying at any moment. This from a smiling Native American man in his thirties or forties who’s usually leading the church in songs with his guitar.
Him and a friend sang a song of thanksgiving today. It was a Native American song, and the lyrics were something along the lines of, “thank you God.” Hard to believe that a man could thank God after something like this. After the message he lead the circle (or “congregation,” for you conventional types) in a few songs about life and God breathing life into us. He talked about watching his mother breath her last breath, and knowing that she was now with her Maker.
The last time I saw Jim he handed me two cocoa seeds. This was a few weeks before his mother passed away. I can’t remember all of what he said, he always puts it so poetically, but he was marveling at how life is wrapped up in a such a tiny seed. The seeds still sit on my desk.
How can a man deal with such heartache? Jesus Christ. That’s the only answer I can possibly come up with, and I’m sure that Jim would agree with me.