I published a book last year called Spiritual Rhythm. It explores a basic idea, though I'd come to it late: for everything there is a season. The idea, of course, isn't mine. It's Solomon's, or whoever it was who wrote Ecclesiastes. But I'd regarded the notion as rhetoric—the lyrical effusions of a chastened but jaded prodigal.
But then my own heart plunged into winter, bleak and cold. For a long season my world turned bitter, and desperately lonely.
Death brought it on. Carol was my wife's best friend and my trusted colleague. She was a pastor of extraordinary gifts. Even more, she had a deepness and closeness with God that made you want these things, too. Her prayers stormed heaven. Her preaching opened its gates. Her ways invited you in.
She started tripping, and walking into walls. She forgot the simplest things. Sometimes she seemed dosed with laughing gas, loopy and giddy. She complained of crushing headaches. Her doctor diagnosed those as migraines, but one day my wife caught Carol nursing a blistering headache in a cascade of sunlight. No one manages a migraine that way. My wife insisted Carol get a CAT scan, whose results worried doctors enough to order an MRI.
And the chase was on. Carol had a lump of cancer in her head the size of a baseball. What followed was an ordeal of surgeries and therapies that ended, 15 months later, with a funeral.
Up until then, and even during, I was stout-hearted. I stood week after week in the pulpit, preaching, praying, exhorting. I gave all the updates on Carol's condition, in a calming voice.
And then I buried her. Even this I did with strength and conviction.
But I woke up a week or so later tired and sad, and I stayed this way a terribly long time.
I thought I needed therapy ...