Jun 10, 2016

Starlight: Thoughts from the Far Orbit

Yesterday,  Beth Michaels passed away after a long, brave battle with cancer.

She was the editor of the Columbia Union Visitor.  She went to school with my wife; they were both on the gymnastics team together.  They were friends.  I did not know her well, and I'm sure she didn't know me.  We met once, at a friend's wedding 19 years ago.

And yet:

She inspired me.  She touched my life in a meaningful way.  And I'm genuinely sad that she's gone.  I realize that it would never have occurred to her that she might have impacted someone so far removed from those close to her.  And then it occurred to me that none of us have any idea of the distance our light travels.

We tend to think of the Great Ones, the Ali's.  The preachers and the Princes, and we know that these supernovas impact the whole world.  Everyone, it seems, knows of their lives, and mourns their deaths.  It's a common thing, these days to want to be famous.  And with Beth's passing, I've come to realize that we are all famous, we are all stars.  All of us touch the lives of people who are virtual strangers to us.   What's sobering is to realize that those in the far orbit don't really know us, and so it may be just one thing that we've said or done, one aspect of  what we do with these days God has given us that make up the only visible light in their far-flung orbit.  It's worth thinking about what it is they see, what kind of impact we make.

If I can shine like Beth did, I think I'll be doing pretty well.  Her incredible faith, courage, and sheer passion for life in the face of implacable death has inspired me.  I can't speak with authority.  I wasn't there.  But I can tell you what I saw from my distant orbit:  the light of a woman who was not dying.  She was living, right up to the end.

For those who knew and loved her well, a blazing sun has gone out.  Their entire solar system has been devastated with the loss of warmth, light, and life.  For me, a shining star has winked out, and every time I look at that patch of dark sky in my universe, I will miss her star.  And I'll look forward to the day when Beth, and all of us, will shine like stars in the summer night, forever.

No comments: