We spent the evening with friends of ours discussing the aches and opportunities of the church we’re attending, and while our kids ran around their living room and up the stairs, and I scratched the ears of one of their pups, I said the thing I keep saying about this church community: I laugh every time I think about where we’re at and how it doesn’t make any sense, but here we are, filled with peace and joy for this place in spite of what would make more sense. Something has bound us here for the time being, for such a time as this, and that mystery and misty hope keeps me coming back, excited to see what’s next.

The opposite is true for me with my mom and her health right now: wrapped up in that is fear and anxiety, worry and stress, uncertainty about what the holidays hold, what next year holds, what the future holds. It feels dangerous to plan for the future, even as God says he knows the plans he has for us, plans to give a hope and a future. It is much harder for me to trust that mystery in the face of the realities of disease – dis-ease – it is much harder to hang on to hope.

But that is what we have, isn’t it, what we must have, what we say we have when we say we love Jesus and God loves us, we say we have hope. Joy. Peace.

Even on this rock life finds a way to keep on living.

Tonight I am warm, held in the majesty of love and communion with my family and with my friends. My husband is strumming his guitar. I spent 30 minutes holding my daughter, talking about sex and marriage and belly button lint and how the Earth was made and how babies are made. She asked whether Grandma Rose is feeling better and we talked about cancer and upcoming doctor’s appointments and God’s love, and Lydia said, even if she dies (oh God, oh God, oh God) it will be okay because we will see her in heaven again with Great Pop and Pop-O.

We are all made of dust, made of the stuff of Earth, all of which was made by the hands of God. We are held. We are held in this warmth and love, and it is this love–capital-L Love–that delivers joy. Peace. Hope.

I will say I love you and you are loved a thousand times in as many ways as I possibly can to every person I come in contact with every day because it is the only thing proven to conquer death and fear of death. It is the only thing that carries me over this chasm of fear and anxiety. It is holding my daughter who is holding me and it holds my mom, even now, even in her anxiety and my anxiety, in her worry and my worry, in all of the unknowns about tomorrow that are always there but strikingly clear now. What a gift to be reminded that today is all we know for certain? So, love.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Neither death nor life. Neither death nor life. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Love, love, love. I wish to stay right here, replicate tonight in its hope and vision for the future, extend that faith and hope and love out for all my days. No more fear. No more anxiety. Just peace and love and being held.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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