Monday, February 26, 2007

Remember that you are dust....reprise

Last night the news reported that the young man found frozen in the snow in Chaska had died. This story tugs at my heart in many ways. It reminds me of Ash Wednesday and the reality that death can come to any of us at any time, in ways we don't often imagine. "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return." But more than that it tugs at my mother's heart. This young man was only nineteen years old and no one knows for sure why he died. A snow plow driver found him early in the morning and he was unconscious and partially frozen. The news story said the injuries they found were consistent with a fall. I hear lots of sad news, but for some reason this young man's story tugs at my heart. I don't really know why. It's odd that I heard the story after taking my walk in the storm. Thinking about it, I could easily have fallen, I've fallen before walking on snow and ice. And when I have fallen I haven't been hurt in the past. What an odd thing - a fall possibly having knocked him unconscious from an injury to his head. What time of night/early morning was he out walking? Why was he out walking? Did he argue with a friend or girlfriend, or a family member and leave his house angry? Had he been partying close to home and decided to walk home? Why would a young man be away from home wearing a watch and ring (which they showed hoping to identify him) and no wallet or identification? So many questions that will never be answered. Yet this young man lingers in my heart and mind. Maybe it's because I have children. I raised three girls, so I never experienced nurturing a boy. But I have a grandson now, who is three, and I cannot imagine the heartbreak of losing him at any time of his life. He is so different than my daughters, and his two sisters, and he has been teaching me many things about what it means to be male and I am so grateful to have him in my life. I cannot imagine the pain this young man's family feels because this tragic death seems to have no meaning, no resolve, no answers. No one saw him and no one knows what really happened. I've held him in my heart and prayers, as well as his family. But I am struck again by the vulnerability of life and how little control over death that any of us have. Maybe that's what troubles me most, my helplessness in the face of the reality of death. This young man's death tells me there is nothing I could do to stop death should it choose to visit my life and any member of my family. That's a truth that I have a difficult time embracing, while at the same time I know it's validity. My lenten journey has surely been deepened by this young man, and I pray that he is engulfed by the love and grace of the One who created him. And I pray that his family might find peace.

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