Before the news of the week, the sad news, let me say that my new life motto is “Doing less and liking it more.”
This is why the doc says I’ll live to be 100 and why I’m at my second summer camp in two weeks, this time on a lake of undisclosed location with two of the three kids.
Both kids, the two youngest, are still outside the custody of police or Children’s Aid, however, the concern for me at the moment is that both are losing their teeth in remarkable ways.
Hannah, the new Canadian citizen, had a tooth come out while simply standing on a dock and watching her sister water skiing. This, at Camp #1.
“Daddy, my tooth came out.”
“Don’t get blood on anything.”
(Especially the camp’s life jacket.)
“Just suck it back.”
(This is my usual advice for an entire host of traumas not listed in the 2015 edition of Your Child’s Trauma Manuel.)
Then Jon, my son, managed to have a tooth magically fall from his mouth while quietly watching a movie.
This, at a respite near Camp #2. At a movie theatre.
Then he dropped it. The tooth. There in the movie theatre. Somewhere between the feet of all of us in the third-to-last back row.
“Dad, I’ve lost my tooth.”
“Go find it!”
On his hands and knees, in the dark, he then did just that.
“Give it to me!” I said.
Jon’s tooth then went into my pocket and is now with the change holder in the front of the family van.
This is because both my son and I (remember we’re doing less and liking it more) are too lazy to move it anywhere else.
Now the sad news.
You know that the children are not strangers to death in the developing world.
They knew this beautiful Ugandan boy who died in his mother’s arms. His was the last funeral they attended.
Until earlier this week.
It was Gary.
I had written about Gary in this Spectator column on the fleeting nature of life, and in blog posts including this one from last summer, on the valley of the shadow of death, when we thought Gary would die.
He was given an extra year of life nobody imagined before finally succumbing to can.
He leaves behind his wife and two young boys, both who have been friends of our own kids.
The two boys, now without their father, are just aged nine and six.
We drove some distance from camp to attend the Hamilton service.
Then we talked about it all for at least some of the long drive back to camp.
The kids have been praying for those two boys, and their mother, every day since then.
When you think of it, thanks for joining them.
Since we’re on it, also from the archives, here, below, is a final thought:
There are many things we don’t know about the afterlife, which is why it’s so disturbing, this crossing of that bridge to Who Knows Where. There are clues, though, in those ancient words spoken to Gary. And there are good reasons to look for these clues.
Pascal said as much with his well-known wager.
That is, if you live your life like God exists but you are wrong, well, then you’ve lived a life of disillusionment and maybe foregone certain pleasures – rather than putting a Beamer in the driveway, you’ve maybe trotted off to Africa or some other God-forsaken place (which, I’ve discovered, isn’t so bad).
But – Pascal said – if you’re right, if God is real and the sort of Scriptures given at hospital bedsides point to this ultimate reality, then the payback is the sort of thing that goes far beyond anything anyone could ever imagine.
On the other hand, you may choose – this is the blessing and burden of having free choice – to see yourself as the only king worthy to sit on the throne of your life. It is your life, after all.
So, Pascal says, if you are right, if there is no worthwhile God to consider, then what you’ve gained is a season of time, a few decades, a short blip on the merry-go-round of this world, to be followed by a sort of great nothing.
But if you are wrong – oh, if you’re wrong and there is a God and a bridge into Somewhere, that is His Somewhere – then you have lost a life that is not only beyond your imagination, but an eternity that is infinitely good.
The thing is, you have to decide on one or the other. By the mere fact of your existence, you — and I — have been put in this position. And it’s a wager – Pascal was a mathematician, after all – that needs some level-headed reasoning as much as any pie-in-the-sky faith.