It finally sunk in. We denied for a while, but it finally dawned on us that Esther, nay Queen Esther, has given her last bow. She has exited the stage. While usually, the last performance of any great actor is received with much celebration and ululation; on this one, we were stunned. We were still seated perhaps in anticipation that the performance will be resumed shortly. Minutes evolved into hours, hours into days but nothing. Then slowly, as the sun receding at the advancing of dark clouds, the truth settled in. She has crossed over to the other side. Beyond the river, beyond the iron curtain and there is nothing we can do about it.
You see we always know that death will come knocking on our doors. However, we hope that when he does, we will want to open the door. Yes, we hope that when he comes, he will find our backs bent, our hairs grey, our teeth missing, our skins wrinkled and possessing a peculiar ability to hug tight to our brittle bones. Indeed, we hope that death comes knocking when we are done with earth and all its sorrows. So you can imagine the anger when he knocks at the prime of our lives; when our families are still infants; when our careers are on the take-off, when our children are still absolutely dependant on us. Oh, death, you rude interrupter! Momentarily, it seemed we were justified in shaking our fists at God. Yet, as we considered the life of Esther, we found that we had very little reason to do so.
Esther was a flower, a most tender flower. She was the kind that the Gardener paid special attention. Quite often, you would find Him pruning Esther here and there; removing the weeds around her and in their place, depositing nutrients necessary for her flourishing. And flourish she did, so much so that there was no mistaking that she was the Gardener’s flower and not some random occurrence of beauty in the wild. Whoever saw her became glad of heart. Indeed, to those that dared come closer; her fragrances were tender to the soul. While some admired her and moved on, there is one who decided to spend the rest of his life with her-her husband. We can never for a moment, place ourselves in his shoes, unless we have experienced the pain of losing a partner in life. Perhaps, we can try and borrow from others before him who lost their dear ones. C.S Lewis comes to mind and in his own words, he felt shut out by God.
‘Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels—welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?’ (A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis)
Yes, C.S Lewis felt shut out. Yet, he admitted that ‘the best is perhaps what we understand least’. We do not understand why the Gardener would uproot Esther from amongst us, denying us her beauty, her grace and her lifting fragrance. However, we do know that the Gardener is good and Esther now bathes in the eternal pleasures that come with His goodness. How selfish it would be for us to ask Him to bring her back. The best we can do is hope that when our lives are interrupted by that grim reaper, the Gardener will find us in full bloom as I am positively certain He found Esther.