Nabeel, wish you were here

I am the bull pen this weekend.  Rachel Reon hoped to have Nabeel Qureshi do her wedding.  Not many girls can access med school graduates who get hired by Ravi Zacharias as apologetic powerhouses in the face of Muslims who hate him for leaving the faith.  And speaking so well against it.

I am filling in as Nabeel has been in the hospital at MD Anderson for 22 days straight.  Muslims rejoice to point to his stomach cancer as Allah’s judgment, and the doctors pulled him into emergency surgery, again, a few hours ago.

Nabeel, I will perform Rachel and Aaron’s wedding  tomorrow, while you remind us of what’s truest in Christianity.  As you skirt the abyss of death with thousands of people who hate you cheering for your demise, we will see Rachel and Aaron married.  Ever since that first Easter Sunday, out of stunning sadness, and out of the mouth of over-awing defeat God in Christ has snatched victory, snatched hope, and stolen joy for us over, and over, and over again.

So we pray for your healing, continually ask for healing.  We owe you that.  We owe Christ that.  We owe you both the asking when it seems o’erwhelmingly hopeless.  We owe you and Christ the asking for healing especially as your enemies are set for revelry.

And if God relents and lets you expend your last breath praising Him, then we owe Christ and you and your enemies clear testimony.  Beyond fatalism for Allah’s will, Christians dwell in a divergent land of hope inside Jehovah’s sovereign, best choices for us.  We ask, and when He heals you, we praise Him.  We ask, and if He deigns to take you, we mourn and still praise Him.

When you get out of the hospital, promise me a photo with a smarmy script saying “because we asked!” or something else mushy.  Wish you were here to do the ceremony, praying, hoping against hope, cheering for you.

Rachel, by the way, will be amazing, in part, due to your investing in her.  Get well.

Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me

Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me is one of the best hours on radio.  Paula and company keep it fresh and crazy funny, and I love it.

But we have a spectrum of places where we don’t want people to tell us or spoil it for us.  Just before a punch line, just before the big plot reveal — don’t tell me for all the right reasons, thank you.

That some child made my polo shirt, or that someone was poisoned making my smartphone, or that someone is dying of cancer thirty years early for working in a factory without safeguards for air and has cancer — wait.  Wait.  Don’t tell me.

A hundred years ago, courageous journalists exploded the layers of horror/guano surrounding beef in the stockyards, steel making, and even later migrant farm workers sipping water from puddles and running to bushes with a five year old child to the bathroom — as both were working.

And a lot of people said, “Wait”.  Never tell me.

Here is the inversion.

Some students thought about people needing to get investment money to change their tiny portion of the world, and started Kiva.  It has exploded.

Never before has the world had more tools at your disposal to make a profound impact — anywhere.

So, rather than bury your head in the sand and cry, “Wait” as in “Don’t tell me ever”: hold your breath and while you are conjuring an astonishing response to something that needs to be quashed, changed or obliterated whisper, “Wait.  Wait”  I am coming up with a life changing response, not just a funny line.  “Don’t mess up my innovating.   Please.”innovating

 

Jacoba, photos to follow

Jacoba died two nights ago.  He was eleven.  In dog years that is 77.  In wolf years it seems longer.  No shorter. 

Kaylynn G. was working as a vet’s assistant when they brought in Jacoba.  She was somewhere between not impressed and enraged.  She hates it that people think getting a wolf is cool, and are clueless how to care for them.   Jacoba was 90+% Wolf.  I am not certain how you get those numbers in breeding, but the overall effect was astonishing. 

A wolf looks at you, and through you at the same time.  He sizes up everyone and everything every day as matter of factly as breathing, eating, pooping, and eating the stray cat that falls into the back yard.  And that intrigues as well.  Most wolves translate “cats” and “small dogs” as “snack” but in today’s topsy-turvy world, those in Jacoba’s house were “pack” and all others were varelse.  Status can upgraded or downgraded with a good fight.  His nose and eyes always seemed to be working on a zero sum basis if you were not “pack”. 

The pictures will reveal perfect markings, lucid eyes, huge size, but they can’t compose his presence.  Jacoba in the night in his front yard, which had a buried electrical fence, only had to watch you.  Even after the G’s had introduced you a few times, something from our dim past whispered for my hair to stand up on my neck. 

He endured petting, and endured it by watching the alpha male and female in his house say it was okay.  I telepathed that I was alpha male in my house, and had flashbacked to Never Cry Wolf as a researcher tried to out pee a wolf marking and remarking the same territory.  Losing battle.  Wolf won.  Jacoba accepted my telepathed thoughts with a small “hmph”.  Not terribly important.   

Jacoba died of cancer and that may easily be our society’s gift to him as cancer rates go up and even affect the wolves in our circles.  And the night seems emptier.  Jill and I walked last night and heard not wolves and not coyotes.  Someone must have served notice.  Stars didn’t even fall   

I had a friend explain that they are making no new land, and my translation is they’re making no new wildness.  So to see something as astonishing as Jacoba pass back to dust makes me hope that other people are guarding the wolves in Yellowstone and other places where we are reverently restoring wildness, and fear, and all those things that makes us feel small.  It gives me hope.   I miss Jacoba making me feel a little smaller.  How easily does that get crossed up with the desire to tame these astonishing creatures?  Why are we wired that way? 

But then, Jacoba felt more complex than a hereditary hunger.  I miss him.  Couldn’t bear to say goodbye to the idea of him as well.  I miss his imposing quiet.  Few of us possess that. 

Love. They were deeply in love. Are.

I have watched two people terribly in love negotiate “till death us do part”.   Just a few months ago they had defeated the first round of a very rare cancer in Jon. 

Almost.

Jon had returned to teaching, and he has always been handsome, tan, fit.  They lit a room when they walked in together. 

The meds to hold the cancer at bay were losing ground.  More aggressive meds were needed and then it looked as if he would need surgery for kinks and obstructions in his small intestine. 

Suzanne, cheerleader for life, outlined the three possibilities.  Homerun was where they resected the bowels and took out both obstructions in one fell swoop.  A double would be bypassing the obstructions and Jon would wear a bag.  The third option was not worth mentioning.

The third option was the reality to which Jon awoke.  His digestive system no longer was at his disposal. 

Brave and loving are two words that weave together in some couples.  It is a dance that they can do with great abandon when the times are jubliant, and a dance which they can wordlessly move to, together, when the night is long and the end is near. 

He was drained but listened to her, I mean looked at her to talk to her. 

She had gone beyond any strength she knew, and still she tried to get his smoothie right when every taste bud had betrayed him and he didn’t know what to tell her.  Nothing she could put in a blender would bring him back. 

She doubted that she could go on with out Jon, and then she realized that everything he had ever given her, every moment, every kindness, every admiring glance — she still held every one of them.

In fact, no one can take them from her.

The tears, the last embraces, last words, and last breath.  She keeps them all for the both of them on this side of death.   Brave lovers get to keep everything. 

Jon keeps them on the other side, for they share Christ, share resurrection, and will be friends again.

Here is the craziest hope for Heaven.  All that Jon and Suzanne held here they have in Heaven with each other, and the children, and their moms and their dads from whom they learned how to give each other a life long love.   Jon is living in it all now.  In a heartbeat or two, Suzanne will join Jon in that great joy. 

Oh, and they have Christ, and they knew one deep secret.  Loving Christ, and loving your soul mate strengthens each love, tempers each, learns from each.   For a while, they will learn without sensing the presence of the other, only sharing the Presence of their Beloved Lord. 

Which is why I think they are still in Love.