While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.
Yesterday, my brother ceased to exist. He didn’t just die after two years fighting an unseen enemy; it was as if he had never lived at all. Slowly, this disease inserted itself into our lives. As the white cells continued to take over his little body they began to push our family apart. As the disease grew, my mother spent more and more time in the hospital. My father spent more time at work. My sisters spent time with one family and my younger brother and I with another family. It became our way, separate. Isn’t that how the enemy works? He comes to bring division, confusion, hurt, anger and uncertainty.
Yesterday, I attended a funeral that I will not remember. Today, we are on a drive in the country. Something we have done on Sundays after church since I can remember. At nine that’s not a lot of memory, but it is the one thing I cling to today. I know that I will need to cling to the beauty I see. The beautiful green hills, the fields of flowers. The farms that dot the landscape. The farmhouses with their unique musty smell of past lives, past dreams. I will need to remember the taste of ice cold, mineral spring water quenching my parched lips and young soul. I will need to hold tight to the memories of my friends, my church family that cared for us, fed us and walked with us. I will hold tight because not only are we leaving the memory of Philip here, we are leaving who we were here.
Moving. I am being torn from a world I love, friends I love, family that I love to begin a new life in a foreign land. At least foreign to me. Moving back to the place I was born. West Texas. While it might seem exciting to be moving to the land of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, even my 9-year-old self knows that nothing will ever be the same. Philip didn’t make that journey with us. He had been packed in a box, shipped to East Texas and buried without even my parents there. I think we buried more in that box than just my little brother. We buried who we were and who we might have been. That’s how my exile in the desert began
I learned to live in the desert after my brother died. Looking back with the lens of age I can see that it was probably much like many of the stories we read in the Bible. I had been exiled to a foreign land. They spoke this foreign language known as Southern. I wondered where God had gone. Maybe He only lived in Ohio. I wouldn’t blame Him. It sure was a lot prettier there and I could understand what people were saying.
But, I learned to see the beauty in my exile. I learned to see God in the vast open spaces. I saw Him in the stars that shone brighter in the inky darkness of the night. I began to see Him in the varied shades of pink and yellow sunrises, in the beautiful purple and indigo sunsets.
I learned that He had always been there. Even when I wanted to hang my lyre on the tumbleweeds, He was there. He has always been there. At my most desperate moments, He has held me. When I stand on the mountaintop, He rejoices with me. When my life was shattered, He was there. Picking up the pieces. Weaving them with a crimson thread into this Masterpiece He calls Daughter.