A man is a bubble . . .all the world is a storm, and men arise up in their several generations, like bubbles descending . . . from God and the dew of heaven, from a tear and a drop of rain, from Nature and Providence: and some of these instantly sink into the deluge of their first parent, and are hidden in a sheet of water, having had no other business in the world, but to be born, that they might be able to die, others float up and down two or three turns, and suddenly disappear, and give their place to others: and they that live longest upon the face of the waters are in perpetual motion, restless and uneasy, and being crushed with the great drop of a cloud sink into flatess and froth; the change not being great, it being hardly possible it should be more a nothing than it was before.
(Tayor, The Rule and Exercise of Holy Dying, 1651, as quoted in Fish, How to Write a Sentence and How to read one, p. 117)
Surely all men are like grass. We flourish and fade, but God remains: unfading, but not unmoved.
Some are mere drops, born (it seems) merely to die, sinking instantly into “the deluge of their first parent,” falling into a womb and quickly out again, to death, to nothing. My friend is delivering a dead baby this week, her third. Three times her womb has received life only to receive death. And what of these tiny drops, never held, never beholding this earth’s sun?
I feel it, the temptation to despair. I can feel below me the all-consuming flood, the dust that swallows us all; the “perpetual motion” that is my life in this moment will not save me from the washing-away.
What of these drops? Are they nothing? Are we nothing? I am sitting in a park on the grass. Blades of grass, growing today; perhaps I have destroyed some in my sitting. We do not grieve for the grass.
Droplets fall, bubbles vanish. Who has the heart to grieve them all?
God is unchanging, but he is not unmoved.
God knits together, wonderfully makes. Those gone from this life are not lost in an ocean grave. They are lost to us, to our senses, for now. But just for now.
Water: by water, through water, God will wash this sadness away away for ever and for eternity.
Sins, death, despair, all washed away, drowned in the depths of the ocean, destroyed in the deep wounds on His hands, in His side.
Yet God’s children will remain, when tears and sighing are past; cleansed by His blood, washed clean by Baptism.
It is not you and I and our babies, but evil, sin, heartbreak, brokenness, that will be washed away when all is done.
And then, fellow Christians, we will not grieve but rejoice, as together God’s children behold evil, Death Itself...
“sink into flatess and froth; the change not being great, it being hardly possible it should be more a nothing than it was before.”
Remembering Delia today.