I’ve just walked a half mile down the lake, to the landing in front of the local restaurant and pub. A place that, on warm summer Saturdays, runs loud with music and laughter. But not today. Today the landing boasts a County Sheriff’s command center in what began three days ago as a search and rescue for a 22 year old Cornell senior who, sadly it appears, will miss his graduation tomorrow. I talked with the sheriff for a long time and we ended our conversation by trading parenting stories; examples of how the Grace of God can spread wide and diverse even as this current situation changes from rescue to recovery. I retrace my steps home, slower, searching, and hoping young Christopher will be found snagged unseen under some lone dock, hugging the shore – alive.
I think of Christopher’s parents and just how two people bear up under such sorrow; the greatest parental nightmare. It must feel as if one has fallen into a nightmare well – slowly descending clawing at the slick and slippery sides of hope. How can hope be so strong in the hearts of loved ones and still end in loss? I have no answers just questions and abstract visions of grace hiding in the shadows of an absent mercy.
Maybe we are here, a collective, alone expected to reach in the bottomless well of sorrows – all of us to take a pinch – just enough to be absorbed by our own personal grace – sorrow’s counterpart. If we all share in this well of sorrows then no one has to bear life’s blows to the empire alone. Oh that this could happen. But we are a singularly proud and vain lot ever-willing to sink our faith in the material realm and be aghast when it fails us. And when the material world fails we are unappreciative of the fact that “all” we are left with is – hope. It floats, has feathers, wings, and wells of its own. Hope abides in the hearts of Christopher’s friends who will miss their own graduations in hopes of finding him. Hope abides in the hearts of the rescue boats crisscrossing the lake as I stand on the shore crossing my fingers. Hope abides in the hearts all the local volunteers who have reached into that dark well and pinched a bit of sorrow – pulling nature’s scripture from the dry caves of preservation and hoping against hope.