Beautiful and Terrible Things
As many of you know, March 3 is a day that has marked my life in a unique way. On March 3, 2001, my younger sister, Lynley, was killed in a car accident. Ten years later on March 3, 2011, a person bent on pure evil killed one of my closest friends, Clint Dobson, in a senseless crime. How do we make sense of such tragedies? Both were taken from the world seemingly far too soon. My sister was involved in an accident that could happen to anyone. My friend was viciously attacked and was a victim of monstrous evil. Events like these can, for different reasons, incite fear that could lead to us missing out on opportunities God has placed in front of us.
When I think about the lives of Lynley and Clint, and the gifts that were taken away so early, it brings to mind a quote from one of my favorite authors. Frederick Buechner says, “The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” I love this because it accurately describes the nature of life. It is important to acknowledge that life is full of both beauty and pain. It’s also important to remember that getting to live in this wild and wonderful world is a measure of God’s grace.
I am fully aware of the terrible things that can and will happen in this life. Today is a reminder of that fact. What I don’t want to get lost is the fact that beautiful things also come our way on a consistent basis. That’s why I wanted to share two beautiful pieces of artwork with you, one created by Lynley and the other created by Clint. They were created with two different mediums because each person had different gifts to offer the world.
Lynley’s artwork is the last painting she made before her car accident. I keep it in my office by my desk as a reminder of the gift of her life. The colors in the painting remind me of the brightness of her life. Lynley naturally had blonde, almost white, hair. She also had a smile that could light up a room. This picture is a great reminder of her vibrant personality and is a reflection of who she was on the inside.
Clint’s piece of art is an excerpt of one of his writings. It was hard to choose one section of his writings because he had so many inspiring blogs, sermons, and papers. Clint was someone who possessed the rare combination of an incredible mind and a huge heart. He understood that our gifts were given to us to be shared with others. I think a section of his blog called “Two Channel TV” summarizes this aspect of Clint’s life really well. Here’s what he says:
“As I’ve had difficult conversations with people, listened as people have shared horribly sad stories and shared the raw truth of brokenness in their lives, as I’ve lived in and seen places that are riddled with evil, I have not become de-sensitized, hardened, and calloused. It has challenged me to be more loving, more compassionate, less judgmental, and more passionate about the Gospel. There are women and men who have been more places and ministered to more sadness than I have who would say the same thing. So, while often times you can be shaped by what is in front of your face, the power of the Gospel is that you grow ever more challenged to actually do the shaping of what is in front of you. Faith, and prayer, and community give one the ability to go into the world and be light.”
As we encounter pain, brokenness, and evil in this world, we don’t have to become hardened by it all. It can lead us back to the Gospel and serve as a reminder of God’s grace in our lives. I think Lynley and Clint would agree with Buechner and say to us all, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
 Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking, Pg. 99