Thursday, May 28, 2015
I got to tell Matt what I wanted to tell Matt. I got to tell Matt when he was living what I would like to say at his Memorial service.
. . . . . but I don’t know.
Within hours of finding out about Matt’s death it became very clear how suicide demands unrelentingly to be answered—asking its nagging questions--did I do enough? Did I do it right? … Did I say the right thing? What if had…. ? What if I hadn’t?
So, that I said to Matt once--- while we were walking together on an early summer day entirely like this-- what I’d like to say now-- this is something that I am thankful for….
It takes a weight off, but it also places another weight on my soul.
Matt had recently shared really heavy parts of his childhood history…
… and as we were walking on that early summer day, he was telling me what a failure he was…..
and how there was no hope and he kept trying to do better and couldn’t and I said something like:
You know I really think you are one of the best people I have ever known.
His love of Rachel had implanted in him a deep love of theology and apologetics and at this moment I appealed to a passage of C.S. Lewis’s in Mere Christianity. In it Lewis is making a case for our great surprise on Judgment Day.
Lewis goes on to argue that
Some people that we take to be the very best kind of people.
Our extraordinary moral athletes….
They will shown to be morally average.
Their virtues really more the product of good luck, good upbringings, and good temperaments—more God’s gift to them than their gift to God.
I re-read the passage that I referenced that day this morning.
Lewis goes on to write:
But if you are person-poisoned by a wretched upbringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels-saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual perversion-nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends-do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom
He blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day (perhaps in another world, but perhaps far
sooner than that) he will fling it on the scrap-heap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all-not least yourself: for you have learned
your driving in a hard school. (Some of the last will be first and some of
the first will be last.)
On the day I told Matt that the rest of us at Junia House were really pretty morally average.
We all have to pick ourselves up after some devastating loss or another….
….pick ourselves up after some failure that makes us doubt that we have much to offer the world….
In the brief time that I knew Matt I witnessed him rising from such devastations 20-30-70 times.
Sometimes it seemed almost daily.
I simply don’t know anyone who tried so hard or struggled so much.
But, I really, really, really wish that he had.
He was such a good friend.
Matt was with me every single day in the months after my Mom died. We planted a small tomato garden and he helped me take the kids to Simeon's soccer games (pulling Jo and Sim in the wagon).
We frequented the local thrift shop. Matt would buy so many clothes. I can’t even estimate how many pairs of Black shorts he owned.
He was fabulous with our kids. When he played with them—-- he always reminded me a wee bit of the Cat in the Hat.
It is hard to imagine that this world is no longer blessed with all that wonderful, anarchic energy.
That Matt will never approach our kids with another good game that he knows. ….
Or Doug with some new scheme.
That he won’t ask me one more time what I think about the “problem of evil”
Or some other theological question dripping with so much real world pain…..
God, I hope that is all resolved now for Matt and better than either Matt or I could have imagined….
better than Lewis imagined.
That he has been flung into a world pulsating with endless possibilities, pulsating with that incredibly thrilling gift for newness and new beginnings that he had.