What’s so interesting about an empty sky?

In less than 20 posts it seems I’ve been doing a lot of writing about life and death. With our summer schedule, and the things that have been happening, it’s almost unavoidable.

Tomorrow I leave with five others for the Willow Arts Conference in Chicago. Another departure. We fly AirTran, not the most luxurious airline around. We’re all looking forward to this. It should be fun – even if I have to go without Trudi {frown}.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my friend, Bob Bean, passed away last week. Tonight we attended the memorial service. I was privileged to have a small part, representing the family and sharing their words with the congregation. Although I’ve spent the last week thinking very hard about what I would say, and what personal anecdotes I might share, I ended up not saying very much at all.

For one thing, there were four preachers behind me that were all going to take a turn, so I didn’t want to preach. And most of the stories I could think of wouldn’t have meant a whole lot to anyone else. After I sat down, I wished I could’ve had another shot at it. (There’s a lesson in that, isn’t there?)

Mentally, and maybe a little emotionally, I was having a bit of a battle with the whole thing – and not like you would think.

Part of the problem was, I wasn’t sad. I’m still not. Maybe I will be. But I haven’t been able to see Bob a lot in the last few years, so I’m used to him not being around. And I know that he is one gatrillion percent happier right now.

I realized as I was coming home – and maybe I’ve heard this illustration somewhere, but I don’t remember – that it was sort of like going to the airport and seeing a relative depart. There are hugs and best wishes, and perhaps some tears. You watch them walk through security and towards the gate. You might wait and watch the plane take off. Then you stand around and talk with the rest of the family awhile, stopping by Starbucks on your way out, and drive home.

That was what the hospital was like.

The memorial service was like going to the airport a week later, standing in the terminal, talking about what it was like before we went to the airport the first time, and how we’re dealing with the departure. We might see other planes taking off, but he’s not on any of them. He left a week ago.

We’re just standing there, looking out the window at an empty sky.

Yes, just like Acts 1. “Why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky?”

Luke doesn’t record the disciples’ verbal answer. It was probably something like, “Um…we were just – thinking. Remembering. Wondering. (pause) I guess we better get going.”

Me, too.