You turn us back to dust,
and say, ‘Turn back, you mortals.’
For a thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday when it is past,
or like a watch in the night.
You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning;
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers. (Psalm 90:3-6)
Tuesday, October 24, 1972 is a day etched in my memory with great joy and nostalgia – this was the day I met my very first love, a sweet nerdy girl named Lisa. We were at a party where everyone paired off leaving the two of us alone in a living room, not knowing anything about the other. Awkwardly, painfully, we struck up conversation and discovered we were soul mates. I had never in my fourteen-year-old life met anyone I connected with so completely. From that day in October forward Lisa and I were joined at the hip, spending every waking moment not in school (she went to Burris, I went to Northside) together. We celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentine’s Day making memories that have lasted throughout my life.
I will never forget the date of July 7, 1973, when I received the phone call from Lisa’s father, tearfully choking out the news that Lisa and her mother had been killed in an automobile accident. A part of me died that day as well. I was furious with God. In the grand tradition of the Psalms of lament, I shouted and fumed, pounded my fist on the ground and shook it at the heavens, and felt a devastation I had never known before in my life. I entered the darkest and most desolate period of my young life.
But a part of me also came to life through this dark night of my teenage soul. In my fury at God I came to realize that I had no doubt that God existed. I spent more time talking to God in those days than I ever had before. I came to treasure that Lisa was ever a part of my life and as years have passed, I give nothing but gratitude to God for the few short months Lisa and I were together. Lisa prepared me to be a better person, to better understand love, and to treasure the precious gift of a soulmate partner.
On this 48th anniversary of her death, I remember her as a gift, as a blessing, as my best friend, and as the first real love of my life. And in the remembrance of her passing, I am reminded again of the precious gift of life and relationships that we should never, ever take for granted.
God of life and love and grace through our transitions, hear our gratitude for the relationships that shape us and give us meaning and purpose. We thank you for memories of those whom we have loved, and those who loved us. Fill us with your Spirit that we might never take our loved ones for granted. Bless us and bless those you have given us as sacred gifts. We ask all in Jesus’ name.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.