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 ...

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