Imagine with me.
You nurture a child nine months in the womb. You raise her from infancy. You change her diapers and feed her. You teach her right and wrong. You show her God’s love and mercy in the little things in life.
You watch proudly as she becomes a woman, as she finishes University, as she falls in love and marries. You stand beside her as she births her own child.
Then early one Sunday morning, as she is accustomed to do, she walks herself over to church for Divine Liturgy on her day off.
She stands and kneels and prays.
She says, “Lord have mercy” 41 times. She recites the Creed. She whispers the Confession under her breath with the priest: “I believe, I believe, I believe…”
She stands in line, her head covered, and takes the Holy Body.
In that instant, as a strange sound enters her consciousness, it’s all over.
It’s over for you. For you, for her husband, for her children, there will never be another glimpse of that smile. There will never be another tender touch. You will never hear the lilt in her voice again.
The brilliance of her mind and the beauty of love in her eyes–you will never experience them again–in this lifetime.
For her, the bang was not The End. It was a door.
A door to a place rarely beheld and barely understood.
But we know it is beautiful. And we know that the Most High dwells in that place, that His light shines before them.
Yes, them–so many of them. A great cloud, in fact.
She rushes from corner to corner shaking hands and kissing cheeks.
“Abouna–how are you? I’ve missed you!”
She turns–and gasps.
Mari Mina is walking around, inspecting the troops, so to speak.
And there is Mother Iriny laughing with a group to the left.
She scans the crowd and spots more and more familiar faces until her heart is full.
She does not feel worry for those of us she left on earth.
Here in this place she has access to feel the strength and will of God all the more powerfully. He will judge rightly–there are no longer lingering doubts.
But back here on earth, the Coptic community is still struggling with a whole range of emotions.
Some despair. Some rage. Some are resigned. Some glory. Some do all of the above within the same hour.
Some tearfully read psalms. Some bury their faces in something–anything else. Some find places to point fingers and place blame. Some interrogate God Himself.
On one plane of existence, the Church Triumphant. On another, the Church Striving.
They are at peace, and we are grappling to catch hold of it.
(written after the St. Peter’s Bombing, Dec. 11, 2016)
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