Author's Note: The appointed scripture took my heart nowhere today so I decided to share a quote where my heart has been going to more recently. It is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison in which he wrote this advice from his own jail cell to family members who were missing one another due to the separations that the war was causing. I offer it today and pray that it will bless your day. It is longer than usual for an ELOGOS post, but worth it, I pray.
From Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
I should like to say something to help you in the time of separation that lies ahead. There is no need to say how hard any such separation is for us; but as I've now been separated for nine months from all the people that I'm devoted to, I should like to pass on to you something of what I have learnt.
First: nothing can make up for the absence of someone whom we love, and it would be wrong to try to find a substitute; we must simply hold out and see it through. That sounds very hard at first, but at the same time it is a great consolation, for the gap, as long as it remains unfilled, preserves the bonds between us. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap; he doesn't fill it, but on the contrary, he keeps it empty and so helps us to keep alive our former communion with each other, even at the cost of pain.
Secondly: the dearer and richer our memories, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy. The beauties of the past are borne, not as a thorn in the flesh, but as a precious gift in themselves. We must take care not to wallow in our memories or hand ourselves over to them, just as we do not gaze all the time at a valuable present, but only at special times, and apart from these keep it simply as a hidden treasure that is our for certain. In this way the past gives us lasting joy and strength.
Thirdly: time of separation are not a total loss or unprofitable for our companionship, or at any rate they need not be so. In spite of all the difficulties that they bring, they can be the means of strengthening fellowship quite remarkably.
Fourthly: I've learnt here especially that the facts can always be mastered, and that difficulties are magnified out of all proportion simply by fear and anxiety. From the moment we wake until we fall asleep we must commend other people wholly and unreservedly to God and leave them in his hands, and transform our anxiety for them into prayers on their behalf:
With sorrow and with grief . . .
God will not be distracted.