My brother’s recent funeral was a joyous homecoming. It contained elements of sorrow as well. I was reminded of the sorrow in my brother’s life—the death of his beloved wife, for example—as well as much happiness. His joy and his Christian faith endured his entire life, but it did not protect him from bad times. Some things, such as the death of loved ones, can be devastating and can never be called “good.”
We say that bad times are balanced by good ones, but one’s life is not necessarily “balanced” in this way. Some suffer lives of deprivation and humiliation for most of their years on earth---women in undeveloped cultures, for example, abused because of their status.
Better to say that kindness and compassion become points of redemption in the darkness, times when a small act of love overcomes hatred or despair. These sparks ignite other sparks, which, I believe, will go on lighting up the darkness until God ends our time constrained world. We choose whether or not to accept and pass on these sparks. We may choose to add our own spark, even if it’s only a cup of cold water passed to a thirsty brother or sister.
Ann Gaylia O'Barr, author of Singing in Babylon, Searching for Home, Quiet Deception, Distant Thunder, and A Sense of Mission (all OakTara), was a Foreign Service Officer in the United States Department of State from 1990 to 2004. Assignments included tours in U.S. embassies and consulates in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah and Dhahran), Algeria, Canada, Tunisia, and Washington, D.C. (Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and Bureau of Intelligence and Research)