"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mike's Jewel

There is a song that needs to be sung -- but I find there are no words to equal the strength and beauty of the melody. Deeply soulful and sometimes restrained and delicate, the notes are being hammered out in the day to day. In some places, it rings of broken hearts and shattered dreams, yet the overlying theme resounds of a love stronger than death itself.

Thing is it's not even my song to sing, yet one that has found cadence on the strings of my own heart and harmony within my own life's orchestration. It's the psalm of Mike and Julie.

I have known Mike all of my life. In fact, he and I shared a table in the back far corner in Mrs. Barfield's first grade class. My most vivid memory of those days is when I felt the need to align our little table for two with the one next to ours and, in doing so, pinched Mike's already scabbed elbow that was sitting directly in the place of juncture, thus reopening the wound. If I recall correctly, the entire class came to a halt from the screech of pain and while Mrs. Barfield applied a bandage.

The next 12 years swept along and Mike and I found each other in and out of homerooms together. Our senior year came and went, and quite sadly, so did Mike and I as we did not see each other for another 34 years. That is until Tuesday evening.

Actually, our reconnection took place a couple of years ago when we "found" each other through facebook. Mike had recently remarried and I delighted in looking at pictures of his and Julie's "redneck wedding," as he calls it -- a simple but beautiful ceremony in their backyard by the lake. Shortly thereafter, posts began appearing about Julie's condition: a large cyst on her brain stem, surgery, crossed eyes, more surgery, therapy, a set back, more surgery, pneumonia, paralysis on her right side, 135 days of continuous hospital stay. An orchestration filled with highs and lows, faith and fear. But after 18 months and 13 surgeries, Julie is home and Mike is right by her side. A duet of grace.

After a few messages back and forth, I called Mike and asked if I could come by to see him and meet his bride; he was more than gracious to my offer. He told me the therapist was there, but he'd leave the door open and for me to come on in. Much to my delight, he was waiting at the door when I arrived, and our first moments together reminded me why I have always had such an affinity for this fellow. "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things," Matthew 12:35 says, and that's Mike.

My friend pointed me to the living area where Julie sat waiting in her wheelchair. Our introduction was an embrace. And for the next period of time, the 3 of us got acquainted and reacquainted, with lots of reminiscing and stories thrown in the mix. And as we did, my heart grew larger and fuller as this beautiful woman took her place within its posts.

Several times a week I seem to run into someone whose only response to life is to complain. It had happened the Saturday morning before and it happened immediately upon leaving Mike and Julie. Both from individuals I don't even know. But here sat a couple who have every right to curse and complain, yet choose to bless instead. Though Mike does not diminish his past, nor do he and Julie deny their situation, they attest to a God who is faithful to them in this present moment and speak nothing but life giving words.

Mike calls Julie "Jewels," and rightly so, for indeed she is his gem. He looks at her with an expression of love that would melt the hardest metal. And she responds in like manner. His voice is kind -- albeit stern like a father when she gets to going too fast in her wheelchair. And her face is playful when she cuts her eyes toward him and drops her jaw.

It has not come without cost, and yes, each day brings its own source of challenges, but these two are writing a melody that is eternal and one that resounds in the heavenlies. My heart is indeed blessed by its tune.

In the 9th grade, Mike and I once again shared homeroom in Mr. Kelly's class. But this time we're on the front row. I'm 3rd from left and he's far right.
Who would have ever guessed that 37 years later, he and I would once again be on our knees together -- this time with his beautiful Jewel and in the presence of a mighty God whose life pulses through her body to the tune of mercy and grace.
Oh, how I bless you two in the powerful name of Jesus! May the days ahead be filled with nothing short of love, wholeness, and miraculous wonders. Not to mention lots of music!

Just an ordinary moment...

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