I once described a hero as one who can hit a ball a long way, as in a Major League baseball player. As we get older, often our heroes change. I know mine has. I now have about 700 of them.
Since 2009, when we hosted our first grief retreat, some 700 brave souls have honored us by spending a long weekend with us. They have come from 38 states, Australia, Canada, and Nigeria. For the remainder of the year, as we host retreats #48 – #52, around 60 more will be added to our hero list.
They have one thing in common – that being a broken heart. Here are a few things our heroes have taught us.
First, there is a whole lot of hurt and pain in this world. We knew this before 2009; we know it more now. I cannot count the number of the buckets it would take to hold all the tears we have seen shed and which we have shed.
Second, they have taught us what is really important in this thing called life. It really isn’t about money, possessions, travel, etc., and whether my team can beat your team. Deep down, most of us believe this. Its all about relationships; about loving others . . . today, while we have today. And this of course entails a thing called forgiveness.
Third, Spark of Lifers have taught us about hope. I have always thought hope was important, but now know it to be vital – to have it and to give it. We have seen ‘impossible’ become possible. We have witnessed end-of-the-rope people courageously grab a new rope, not so near the end. When we see hope revived in others, it revives hope in us.
We also have seen the power, love, and goodness of the God most of us at times struggle to ‘get.’ In the midst of deep pain, confusion, and intense anger at God, and even in the ‘if there is a God’ sentiment, we keep seeing God – the God who is not nearly as far away as we might have thought. He doesn’t just show up in the neat, clean places, does He? No, God in fact often appears more real, at least to me, where there is a whole lot of dirt.
A year ago, I met a highly respected author, a really good guy. When he asked me what I did for a living, and I told him, he responded quite bluntly, completely different than all the other responses we have received when asked that question.
“Well, you have the right to do what you want, but I choose to spend my time with life, not death.”
I responded then, as I have often since, “Me too. We are called Spark of Life – not Spark of Death.”
Oh, one more thing we have learned from our new heroes – They really do not want to be anyone’s heroes. They, and we, wished we had never met, at least not in the way we did meet.
But meet we did, and heroes they are.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.