My grandpa died exactly 6 years and 16 days ago. His death was the most profound loss I have ever experienced and in a way it becomes worse as time passes. While the pain has healed, I will always be sad that he never got to meet my children or experience any of the other things that have happened since he passed. Most poignant of all, I will never be able to talk to him about things that had little significance to me when he was alive but now are much more important.
The last conversation we had before his death did not seem unusual at the time, but since it ended up being our last conversation it has stuck in my mind. We talked about my life and his life, and specifically about his spiritual life. I have come to realize through that conversation that I mirror much of his skepticism even if I keep it hidden. There are very large portions of the Bible that I cannot shout a hearty "amen!" to. There are parts that turn my stomach and unsettle me to the core. I know it is true and cannot help but believe it, but were it not for that important fact, I would very much like to turn a blind eye to scripture. I cannot deny it so I try to swallow the whole thing as it is and trust that God knows what He's doing even if my mind cannot fathom it.
I would like to know my Grandpa's secret... how did he find a relationship with God sweet and pure when I know he struggled with scripture until the very end? I know he died at peace with God, so I have hope for myself. Still, realization comes too late and I won't be able to ask him about it until after I have it figured out for myself. But in the end, I imagine that's all he would tell me. It is my turn to find God and no one else can lead me there.
So where do I begin? Lent seems like the perfect season to start a journey of this kind. For the first time I am spending the 6 1/2 weeks preceding Easter in preparation for celebrating the resurrection. I am hoping to leave my past ideas about spiritual life behind and come away with some joy instead. I am also intending to finally visit my grandpa's grave and say a long-overdue goodbye.