On Chasing Light and Turning from Vultures
The sun reached forward, adorning the tops of trees and tips of houses in gold. I needed to be out in it, to feel on my face and my shoulders this bestowing of divine light. I put on my sneakers and grabbed my earbuds and set off to chase the sun.
About a mile in, the breeze and sun on my face, I rounded the corner to the jarring, chilling sight of two turkey vultures picking at remains of something they deemed dinner. It was incongruent. My eyes and heart, focused on the treetops and the clouds, yanked down hard by this scene. I’d stepped into a battle between depravity and glory.
As my brain registered the shock, I pivoted, turning back the way I came. I was still trying to shake the macabre from my memory when a car pulled into the driveway in front of my path. In the front yard waited a joyful, unstable toddler, held up by a babysitter. His eyes fixed on the driveway, I followed his gaze back to the car, and watched a woman wearing scrubs throw open her car door, emerge quickly, eyes locked onto the toddler’s, running towards him. The sound of joy bled from both of them, as the mom’s eager embrace engulfed stretched-high arms and chubby hands.
We encounter these moments all the time. The vultures and deep griefs of our days compete with the hope and beauty and love that transcend them. On one side of a corner, I shudder over death, but as I turn the corner, I tear up over the beauty and the hope. I look up to see the golden light shining on the trees, a reminder of His presence over both. Over all.
I started to see other things on my walk — things so much a normal part of my days, I don’t usually notice them. Roaches crossed my path. I noticed dirt on the beige siding of a home. The uneven cracks in the driveway. The dented bumper. The empty Capri-Sun left at the edge of the road.
The list is long, isn’t it, of imperfect things we accept as normal? The broken, the fraying, the chipping, the fading — it’s the only reality that we know. Sometimes I absorb it, and sometimes it shocks me, and sometimes I grieve.
As a practice, when I bump up against those places of shock and grief, my heart searches for times when Jesus faced similar challenges. No, He didn't see discarded Capri-Suns, but He did grieve over the realities of this world. I’ve long found solace in the shortest verse in the Bible, that tells us Jesus wept. After one of His dear friends died, He came to those mourning him, and Mary fell to Jesus’ feet, in tears. As she knelt in the dust and dirt, death waiting in the tomb, our Savior wept, too. He was minutes away from restoring his friend’s life, yet first, He shed tears. (See John 11:17-44.) He grieved, as we do, just before He gave us victory. He wept, then restored. He died, then lived.
The way He held the broken and bought the victory lives right here on this street I walked, in this paradox of scenes joined by this corner. The vultures may rejoice in death, but the joy of the reunion and the presence of the light always rise above this world's grip.
When we taste death, we still hold the resurrection. When we glimpse dark, we still hold the light. When we carry grief, we still hold hope. All of these cover the decay and brokenness, victorious.
This story doesn’t end with the vultures.
This story ends with a reunion.
A coming home, with arms raised, our eyes meeting His.
May we be faithful to turn the corner.