Plucked Too Early?

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The internet is a veritable blessing! I find it such a tool for ministry. It may not have the personal touch of a hand written letter as we respond to persons, but it has the advantage of instantaneity and immediacy. There is undoubtedly a certain thrill to see the postman arrive with a long awaited letter. That was delivered by “he mail”. Today instead we receive letters by “e-mail”. Some people at times tend to make a blanket charge against the internet arguing that it can wreck and ruin particularly young minds. Others say that it can spawn and spread evil. I like to compare it with a kitchen knife. It is useful. We need it. We use it. But it can be harmful and even dangerous if it is abused or falls into the wrong hands! Even though I am thousands of miles away, I find the internet such a valuable help to reach out to those who need guidance and comfort; to those burdened with grief and sorrow.

Today I received by e-mail a letter from a young widow. This is what she wrote: “When I was in college, I was staying in a hostel run by nuns…In front of our hostel, we had a garden bearing beautiful flowers…The Assistant Warden of the hostel took great care of the garden. Every evening she would spend at least three hours, if not more, nurturing the plants and giving a careful glance at each pot ensuring that every flower bloomed to perfection…Then just before she could leave the garden, she would take one last look at the pots and flowers in the garden and strum the most beautiful flower and place it at the altar for the next day’s mass.”

As she recalled her college days, she related this garden scene to the death of her dear husband and added “Jesus was walking in his garden. He saw J and called him to Himself.” For this young, prayerful and devout widow her dear husband was the best flower in the garden of her life. She wanted him as her coolest partner all throughout her life. Her teenage son wanted him as his best friend. Her teenage daughter wanted him as her best Dad! The bouquet of the marigolds of marriage does contain the violets of widowhood. What could I say in response? How could I ever pretend to understand, much less share, never having experienced such pain, her grief and loss? All that I could do was to respond and assure her of my prayer for her and her children.

Several “whys” followed. There are so many wearied in this world. Why does Jesus not remember them and give them rest? Questions like these will never be answered on this side of eternity. We can neither solve nor dissolve them. They stay with us. It is good that they do. Strange though it may seem, these unsolved questions keep us going. They nourish our hope. They strengthen our love. They deepen our faith. And faith is not just believing. It is even more walking. We walk not knowing where we are going but by placing our hands in His we let Him lead us.

The garden belongs to God. There are beautiful flowers that He has planted and tended. The Divine Gardener chooses and plucks the flower He needs. In His wisdom and love, He picks and plucks the flower when it is at its best. Not a day early; nor a day late. We feel the loss and the emptiness. We cannot fathom His plans. But we know that, one day, we too will be picked and plucked to complete the beautiful bouquet the Divine Gardener has in mind. And we will be together again!

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