A cold salty wind bit my face as I looked out from the grassy slopes of Howth to the Irish Sea. Across St. George’s Channel lay England. Down the slope lay a warm pub playing the Italy-Ireland rugby match. I dared not cheer for Italy even though I was taking a weekend away from studying in Rome. I valued my limbs too much to do a foolish thing like that.
What is more, I felt a bit out of place on this side of St. George’s, since I must confess I have only a drop of Irish blood in me, but at least two pints of English. By the end of the weekend, though, I had taken in quite a few Irish pints to make up the difference.
A very beautiful contentedness nearly settled in my soul looking out on the water. And yet the pain on my face grew with each passing gust. A conflict arose in me: linger on the beauty of the sea-side slopes and let my nose run, or return to the pub down the way and sip another Irish pint? Of both pain and beauty, it is true that this too shall pass.
In moments of gloom, that thought is a comfort; in moments of joy, a sobering check. Now as I mourn the loss of a friend, it is a hope.
“The sufferings of this present life are nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
With confidence, I pray that Brandon Barrett sees that glory now.
To our mourning I say, “This too shall pass.” To the glory that remains for Brandon, that phrase fails.
I imagine heaven rather similarly to the scene on the shore of Howth, only without the wind. I could have stayed an eternity at Howth if not for the wind. The bite made it impossible to settle in. I had to puff on my hands to warm my cheeks and then wiggle my fingers to get the blood flowing once again. In heaven, I hope there will be no hand-puffing or finger-wiggling. I hope there will be simply peace.
While Brandon has been freed from the hand-puffing and finger-wiggling of this world, and while we pray for the repose of his soul, we must repeat to ourselves in our grief that this too shall pass. We must live with the wind biting our faces, yet staring out from the grass to a rolling blue-grey sea.
To Live on the Edge of Panic
As if it were the Edge of the Sea
A breath of salt air fills the lungs
Feet dangling in peace, and ecstasy.
This too shall pass.