In Our Absence—Behind the Scenes

Mount Rainier at a distance.

Mount Rainier at a distance.

A rock is thrown into a lake and creates rings that continue outward until you can no longer see them or the ripple effect that follows.

As human beings, we cast our words, our talents, our actions outward and they continue on, affecting everyone who comes in direct contact with us or indirectly through hearsay and  influence whether for good or for evil. Cause and affect; time marches on, even when we’re gone, and things change.

Mount Rainier "up close and personal."

Mount Rainier “up close and personal.”

When we returned, the weeds had grown; the Bougainvillea had sprouted sucker branches that shot three feet beyond the original plant. Palm trees and Southern pine had been removed at the West Gate and the ground was being scraped and carved for new Condos.

In place of the shrubs and greenery we expected, metallic diggers and large-treaded tractors stood in defiance. The scarred earth lay bruised and exposed in place of the grass we had left behind. I mourned quietly for the raccoons, squirrels, possums, armadillos and birds left homeless and perhaps dead in their wake.

At the base of the mountain:  Still a long way off. (the base is usually covered with snow).

At the base of the mountain: Still a long way off. (the base is usually covered with snow).

At home, we replenished the empty refrigerator and pantry. A clerk where we shop was obviously pregnant. I had not noticed her condition before we left. Now she was burgeoning with ripe expectation. Could this ballooning have happened in only three weeks time?

All around, there were new things happening. The entrance to our complex had been re-tarred. The roadway greeted us with a black sheen and a smooth ride. Our mail was in the box just as we had requested, and surprise, surprise – while we were gone, the world kept turning and operating without our help.

Me and my sweetheart chatting while resting. My daughter caught us unawares.

Me and my sweetheart chatting while resting. My daughter caught us unawares.

Somewhere in this state of insignificance and unimportance that all of us feel from time to time, a young man, thinking only of himself and operating from hatred, decided to change the equation. He would have his moment in the flashing lights of fame and recognition. But instead of the light from above, he was surrounded by darkness and inspired by evil.

Today he remains in a dark cell as a caged animal because he acted in rage and from base animal instincts rather than from reason and love. Yet as he shot the living and ended their mortality, he also freed them to a higher calling.

A beautiful glacier lake on the way to Mount Rainier.

A beautiful glacier lake on the way to Mount Rainier; a female caribou stands in the water.

To his surprise, instead of meeting hate for hate, he was surrounded by love. His so-called enemies were his friends. They chose to forgive him in spite of his egregious actions. They sought to live as they believed and to honor their Lord and Savior.

Instead of the “Christian hypocrites” that many in society were expecting, these humble followers made a commitment to each other and to their God that this heinous crime would not influence their faith or fulfill the hatred that had walked among them.

In the absence of their loved ones and with the indictment of the murderer, these valiant men, women and children walked with their heads held high; their aching hearts filled with the peace of God.

May the blessings of Heaven surround these faithful souls in South Carolina.

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