We’ve only been to Colorado Springs once before. It was 3 years ago on our first cross-country drive to California. We stopped to see my brother-in-law who had moved here to be closer to his children and grandchildren. At that time, we drove in after dark, went straight to his home for a nice visit and then went back to our hotel. We left early the next morning to resume the long drive and never saw what this city has to offer.
On this trip, we decided to take in one of the sites for which Colorado Springs is famous: The Garden of the Gods. We left our hotel at 8:30 AM and hiked almost 2 miles admiring what the ‘gods’ planted in this huge National Natural Landmark. The skies were blue; the sun was bright and warm; the rocks were red.
Some of the gods’ formations were 1400 feet high. They were all overwhelmingly powerful, but my favorite was The Three Graces.
That’s fitting for this visit because what I’m praying for and asking others to pray for is grace.
The Bible says, “But for the grace of God, there go I”. That knowledge brought tears to my eyes when I first laid eyes on my brother-in-law lying in the hospital bed in the ICU, two long lines of stitches on his shaved head reminding me of this past April when my husband emerged from a craniotomy with similar scars. But for the grace of God, my husband’s brain could have decided to give in to the pressure as his brother’s brain has decided to do. But for the grace of God, I might be trying to make decisions that no one wants to make as my sister-in-law is right now…as I write this.
My brother-in-law is stubborn, opinionated, and argumentative, kind, funny, talented and smart in a mechanical sort of way. He is an Air Force veteran, a good father, and a great brother. Though they live far apart, he and my husband texted through football games all day every Saturday. He’s my husband’s first phone call with electronic or mechanical questions. Jack is going to need God’s grace to get through the Rose Bowl, which he and Bob had talked about endlessly before the stroke that has landed Bob in purgatory. He’s going to need God’s grace for the Superbowl, the football championships, and next season assessing the coach who succeeds Urban Meyer. He’s going to need God’s grace when he has his next mechanical challenge or wiring issue.
When my sister-in-law makes her final decision to pull the feeding tube tomorrow, she’ll be sentencing herself to watch his body slowly shut down. It could take as long as 2 weeks, she says and she would know as a retired oncology nurse who helped many patients transition. He’s the love of her life, she says, but she didn’t have to say it. We all know. They dated in high school for two years, drifted apart, married other people, divorced and reconnected 40+ years later…5 years ago. She wanted one more Christmas, she tells him as he sleeps. She’ll need God’s grace to give her the courage to make this decision, and God’s grace to allow him to transition.
As I stand at the base of the sandstone formation, I pray and am instantly grateful for these three of God’s graces. She has power, this God who planted this garden as a reminder to those of us looking straight into a bright blue sky, impossible rock structure dwarfing us in a stark reminder that we are very, very small specks in the grand scheme of the Universe.
Some things don’t pass: the love we feel for each other, the shared laughter and tears, the memories of experiences that form the foundation of all we know, love, cherish in each other. These things are Universal Natural Heartmarks that stand before us in constant reminders of who we are together…and apart. There’s great power in these monuments. They hold beauty that far exceeds the physical; they hold peace that surpasses understanding; they hold joy; they hold powerful power. Still, when someone you love dies, all that truth is crushed by overwhelming grief until God’s grace pulls you back up as a monument to that relationship.
It’ll be up to me to keep this in mind while my husband struggles through this process. I don’t know if I can…so, will you pray for one more grace? For me to be the support I need to be?
Thank you…you are yet another of God’s Graces.