“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
– I Corinthians 15
There was some police action on the beach the day we arrived. We walked by the crime tape, the team of investigators, the canopy over the scene. I stopped to ask another woman walking on the beach if she knew what was going on. Valerie said she’d seen a couple in the parking lot earlier who’d looked shaken and she wondered if they’d found something. She was pretty sure there was a body under the canopy. She noted that the crime tape had already been up a few hours so it had to be something pretty serious. The winds had been high the night before and she wondered if maybe a body had come in on the surf. A man named Billy stopped to chat with Valerie and my husband and me. He wondered what was going on, too.
My husband and I continued on our walk, looking for agates, watching the antics of the seagulls as they chased each other around for food, enjoying the sunshine and the salty air. Every now and then, though, I’d look back at the crime canopy and wonder.
Billy rejoined me a while later to tell me that a friend had confirmed a body had been found in the sand. Billy said that the night before he’d passed a man on the beach who looked distressed and lost – the man seemed a little “off” to him – but he’d shrugged it off and continued on his walk. He wondered now if this body belonged to the man he’d seen the night before, and if it had been a suicide. For a moment neither of us spoke, each thinking our own thoughts. Then we wished each other well – told each other to stay safe – and parted ways.
Later the local news confirmed that the body of a man in his thirties had been found partially buried in the sand. I went into my mother-of-sons place then. I grieved for the man and his family. I prayed and tried to reach my thoughts out to the man – letting him know he was loved, whoever he was – that he wasn’t alone. I wished him peace. And, eventually, with the help of the ocean and the seagulls and the kites and the ever-tumbling waves, I found my own peace.
A few days later, as we got ready to leave, a rainbow arched across the sky. There’d been a rainbow after my mom’s passing, and a rainbow after my dad’s passing, too. I idly wondered who might be manifesting THIS rainbow. And then I thought of the man whose body had been found the day we arrived. And I knew he was alright.
Life is so much bigger than these forms we see –
so much bigger than body-hieroglyphs of “you” and “me.”
Death has no power to end our Life – Life fills all space –
exists beyond form and time and place.
I feel my loved ones ever-near –
both those who have “passed” and those who are still “here.”
Death can’t destroy the love we feel,
and nothing can stop the healing of what needs to be healed.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell
(Photo of rainbow by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)