Gone by like the markers on the runway outside a jet’s windows.
Zip, zip, zip, zip…
You’ve seen it. They are clear, separate and distinct, as you look out the window while the plane is taxiing out. Then you sit for a moment, as if in preparation to spring into the sky. The huge aircraft gathers all its faculties, like a great cat hunkering down to spring at its prey.
Suddenly, the moment of take-off arrives. The giant creature leaps forward, intent on flight.
A moment before, you were certain of the markers, your position on the runway. In an instant, the blink of an eye almost, the markers are no longer distinct, but a blur. A little faster and they become all one line, neither coming nor going–just a single line made up of many.
My high school graduating class held its forty year reunion last week. I couldn’t attend. Too many miles and a packed schedule made it clear that, like all the rest before, I would miss this reunion too.
Unlike the three previous events, this time I would see much of what transpired through the windows of the internet and social media. Photos and videos, as well as written messages fairly blasted from my computers and phone all weekend. I was grateful and happy to be a part of it, even if only through the media.
The weekend ended. All the participants went home. At first, the posts continued unabated, with new photos and new messages. Then they gradually slowed, a transition from the torrent of Niagara Falls to the trickle of a little hillside spring.
I was still grateful. Still happy.
Until yesterday. I saw the video.
The title read, “The Class of 1975…Remembers.”
I wasn’t prepared for the photos. The faces.
But they’re not.
I already knew it. I have seen the list of my classmates who had passed on. Accidents–AIDS–cancer–suicide–the list of causes includes all these and more. I have dealt with the intellectual knowledge that they are gone.
But, the faces.
Suddenly, the tears flow. I am back in homeroom as the teacher calls the roll. Susie was always near me because of her last name. She doesn’t answer. Peggy, too–right before me in the alphabetical list. No answer. I answer here, but the next name called out after me, Raul, evokes no response. He, too is gone.
So many more.
They are not just names; they are faces from my past–people whom I knew and who knew me. Gone from view, perhaps forever.
Someone said that we will see them again. I want to believe that. My faith tells me that for some, it will be true. My heart tells me that for others, it will not. The grace of God is not lacking, but the permission from the individual is a condition which must be met.
I pass no personal judgment, but God will not violate the choices we make in this life.
The tears begin anew. So many–gone so soon.
I have spoken more than enough about tears recently. I want to stop.
I want them to stop.
As I dry my eyes once again, I consider the speed of the years going by once more and become aware that the blurred lines on the pavement are no longer passing at a frightful speed. They have given way to clouds and a far away landscape which is passing even faster than the lines.
Is this all we have to look forward to? Will all of life soon be sad, distant memories left behind us?
In my mind, I reach over and slide the cover down on the window. I shake my head and look around.
In here, time is moving at a normal speed. Folks are deep in conversation; young children are playing; refreshments are being served. There is not a sign of hurry, no sense of despair.
Just like the jet, this sphere we ride on through the universe is spinning at breakneck speed, seemingly out of control at times. Yet, in our little corner of the world, time passes as it always has, one day at a time.
Tomorrow is a new day.
There is still time.
“In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
(Proverbs 16:9 ~ NIV)
“How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?”
(Dr. Seuss ~ American children’s author/poet ~ 1904-1991)