Blessed Are Those Who Have Not Seen

I woke up yesterday morning and debated whether to go to the early mass, or else go to Oak Mountain and then go to the five o’clock mass. The weather forecast said AM storms and PM sun, so I decided to go to the eight thirty mass.

I don’t often get emotionally involved in church services, nor do I think that is essential to worship. But yesterday was different. I don’t know why, but I found myself staring at the crucifix. What a ridiculous story, I thought, God made man, hanging naked on a tree. A lot of stuff in the Bible makes no sense. Most of the world makes no sense. God dying makes no sense. But as I looked at the statue, that all faded. Whatever may be the reasons, the sight of God on the cross made me trust him.

I was captivated, and longed to walk up to the crucifix and touch it. Then I remembered that the whole point of the mass was that I would get to touch the Son of God. And I did.

When I returned to my spot after taking the bread, I watched every other person approach the priest and receive the body of Christ. Probably because I had come alone, I was feeling seriously disconnected yesterday. I didn’t know  anyone there. They did’t know me. But we all partook of the same body and blood. I felt united. I watched and thought, “brother,” “sister.”

Then I went home. I cooked some breakfast, ate, cleaned up, and then sat on the couch, drinking my coffee and listening to the radio. My plan was to loaf until late afternoon, then go for a bike ride. It would have been a typical Sunday, though lived in light of an atypical mass.

At about twelve thirty, my best friend called. I was excited to hear his voice, thinking he was going to tell me that he and his wife just had their second child. When he said my name, and then was silent, I knew that would not be the case. They went to the hospital as planned. But there was no heartbeat. All I could say was God I’m so sorry; I wish I was there. He promised to call me again later, I told him to do it whenever he felt like it. Then we hung up.

I sat and stared ahead. My dog wandered into the room, and I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. We did. For about four hours we plodded through the surrounding neighborhoods. Defying the forecast, a thunderstorm passed through. We hid under the side entrance to the Independent Presbyterian Church on Highland Avenue, and from there watched quite a lightning show. As I watched the bolts fly, landing who knows where and destroying who know what, I wondered why my friends had to suffer. Why I could not be with them. What they would do. If I could do anything to help. I never thought of any answers.

We finished our walk and came home, where I spent the night watching old home movies. No-one in any of these videos lives within four hundred miles of me. Some of them don’t live at all anymore. There was my baby brother at Christmas. He would be thirteen now. Then my little sister, who would be eleven. What would they be like today? What are they doing now? Will I see them again? 

Once more, I don’t know. I’ll go to mass again today. And again I’ll think of God dying. And again I’ll watch everyone else take His body in their hands. And maybe I’ll never understand. Maybe I’ll never have answers. But for a few moments at least, I’ll trust, and I’ll feel united not just with everyone around me, but with everyone I no longer see.

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7 Comments on “Blessed Are Those Who Have Not Seen”

  1. Alabamian Says:

    What a beautiful, moving piece of writing. I’ve linked to it here.

  2. wheeler Says:

    thanks. that means a lot to me, as your blog is the one i consider to be the best written alabama blog.

  3. Kathy Says:

    This is beautiful, Wheeler. I’m so sorry for your friends’ loss. It must be unbearable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Danny Says:

    Nicely said. Thank you.

  5. […] Wheeler has a touching expirence he recently had. […]

  6. Loretta Nall Says:

    My thoughts are with you and your friend Wheeler. I, too, have lost a child. He was three months old and died of SIDS. It is something you never really get over…just learn to deal with. I’ll be sending positive energy your way…for what it’s worth.


  7. draftsonyou Says:

    It’s been 2 months now since we lost Eliza. (For everyone else, I’m the guy…the best friend) Even though I rarely post anything to his blawg, I think I should make a comment here. I have read this piece many times, but I have never been able to respond, for obvious reasons. I have always WANTED to respond, but it just seems like the words are never there. Now, even though I cannot express what my family and I have been through, I can express certain other sentiments.

    I don’t see my friend (the author of this blog) anymore because I have moved to FL. This has also been a great loss to me. We have somehow forged one of those friendships that “understands” life together. When you do what you do for the reasons you do them, and there are no questions asked…just understanding. Now, after the death of my daughter, this is positivley the most difficult time of my life, and I long for understanding like never before. The most dissappointing part of it all is that you learn through heartache that there is no understanding…only acceptance. Support from friends and family is sincerely intended, but rarely of any comfort at all. (In fact, the most comforting thing that anyone actually “told me” was ironically that “J.D., you will NEVER understand this.” That came from an old doctor guy that has experienced some similar stuff. Anyway, this all leads to a point.) Even though my buddy is in AL and I am in FL, and we don’t get to talk much, and we generally choose not to talk at all about the hard stuff, the understanding is still there. This blawg demonstrates that as well as anything else. The feeling of shock, confusion, fear, sadness, longing, helplessness…almost all precede acceptance. How is it that my friend can say that he has no means to help me and yet still help me? I really don’t know, but I’ve witnessed it here. And even though I still have not reached acceptance, I am comforted, once again, by my friend. Thanks, Bro! J.D.

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