I was looking through some old family photos recent and came upon the one to the right. I was astonished as I looked at it to discover that absolutely no one and nothing in it exist in this world any longer. My sister is blowing out the birthday candles on her 7th Birthday in 1967. She has since died (in 1991). My mother who leans over her died in 2005. My Maternal Grandmother who looks on died in 1978. My Father who took the picture died in 2007. The building in which the picture was taken (my Grandparents apartment) was demolished in 2004. The Polaroid camera is also long gone. Even the original picture that this was scanned from is now gone. Absolutely nothing and no one in this photo remain any longer in this world.
The scripture says, “We have here no lasting city.” (Heb 13:14) It also says, As for man, his days are like grass. He flourishes like the flower of the field. But the wind blows and he is gone and his place never sees him again (Ps 103:15-16).
Texts like these may seem sad but they are also hauntingly beautiful. There is something sad as I look at what once was or as I walk past the vacant lot where my Grandmother’s building once stood. But I take consolation in this, that although pleasant things pass so do difficult things. The Book of Psalms says, “Weeping may endure for a night but joy will come with the morning light.” (Ps 30:5). The text above may say that we have here no lasting city but it goes on to conclude “but we are looking for the City that is to come.” (Heb 13:14). The other verse above may speak of the wind blowing and we are no more but the next verse says, “But the love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting. (Ps 103:17). The world is passing but God is everlasting. For now the brief forms of this life are like shadows that appear but soon vanish. Soon enough we will journey to that place where loss is no more and joys will never end.
Consider this very consoling advice from St. Teresa of Avilla who stitches together life’s passing quality with the gift of peace:
Let nothing disturb you,
Nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patient endurance attains all things.
Whoever possesses God lacks nothing,
God alone is sufficient.