"She... thought of how when her sister had played her flute, whatever her father was doing, however busy he was, he would listen, gently opening all the doors between the place where he was working, and wherever Clem was practising."
- Binny for Short by Hilary McKay, pg. 14
I'm a part of that strange family of people that prefers children's literature over adult literature. It's not that I don't like solid adult fiction or a good biography -- it's just that I find the humour and kindness and gentleness and unique perspective of children's literature to often be more enjoyable than the sometimes exhaustive emotional roller coaster plots of adult fiction. Whether this is an indicator of my maturity level... well, we won't go there today.
Anyway, I've been busy reading some kid lit over the last week and the quote up at the top is from a book I just finished. The 12-year-old protagonist is calling to mind memories of her father who died a few years before -- and when I read this my breath caught in my throat a little bit because I had this moment where a fictional phrase is so real and mirrors a past moment so acutely that you have to read it again just to make sure you're not imagining things.
It's just a sentence, just a subtle phrase that most readers skim over to get to the next paragraph. But in my own life, for my family -- this exact thing happened countless times. One of us would close the doors to the living room after pulling a violin out of its case or snapping the piano light on, not wanting to disturb the peace of the rest of the house with messy scales and unsuccessful attempts at sight-reading. And sure enough, a few minutes later, one door would swing open, then another, and sometimes he would come through one of them and stand with his ear to the music and his hand on the bannister and just look out the window, and other times there would be nobody there, just silently opened doors and a dad sitting back down at the kitchen table, preferring the full-volume effect of jolty quasi-musical phrases and cries of artistic frustration to accompany his paperwork.
For a little while after he was gone, playing music felt lonely. The doors remained shut. I'd look up, half-expecting to see him standing at the bannister, even though I knew he wouldn't be there. And then I'd feel a little bit annoyed, because he should be there and it's weird that he's not because he was just there, just a few weeks ago, and he was just laughing, and he was just eating dinner across the table from me and it seemed so terribly stupid that someone who was so completely alive is -- just -- not.
I came across 1 Corinthians 15:21 last week. It read, "For as by man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive."
Some people find the resurrection of the dead simply unbelievable, too far-fetched, too sci-fi. For me, the reality of the resurrection is inescapable. Experiencing the death of a loved one is strange and bizarre. But I can recall looking at the shell lying in the casket and thinking that there was something missing, something so glaringly huge. And I thought, his soul is not here. If someone who was so alive, so full of laughter, just recently mashing up shepherd's pie on his dinner plate could be so quickly lying here in this shiny casket, how swiftly can his soul be filled with life, real eternal life.
I am not an exegetical genius, but I do know that we are quick to think that by man came death, evil, sin; I know that we are quick to limit the power of the Almighty God and think that that is the end. But that is not the end. That is never the end. In Christ shall all be made alive, and no, not in these lousy bodies that get the flu and get sunburned and get choked up with cancer and darkness. Our souls, our new bodies, these will be made alive in Christ. We were created in His image, and as Christ lives and will live and reign eternally, as co-heirs and sons and daughters of the Lord, so shall we.
Thank God for fathers, here and already there.