Sunday, May 3, 2020

It is not for nothing

"It is not for nothing that you are named Ransom,"  said the Voice. 

This quote is from Perelandra by CS Lewis. 

I'm rereading it. 

It is my favorite book in the Space Trilogy and one of my favorite books of all time.  

Without going into the story, the character Ransom is realizing what he must do.

And now that he is realizing what he must do, he also realizes that nothing up to this moment has happened to him by chance, 

nothing has ever happened by chance, 

and even his name "Ransom" was planned before the foundations of the world. 

I remember that I had a moment like that when my father was dying.  

My name is Veronica, which means "true image."  

Saint Veronica was said to have wiped the face of Jesus as he made his way to the cross and in doing so, came away with a "true image" of Christ on the cloth she was holding.  

I had known the meaning of my name, and the myth of Saint Veronica, but even so, it seemed meaningless to me, especially to me, since I knew that I was not actually named for Saint Veronica. 

I was named for my grandmother Vera, my father's mother. But Vera sounded "too old," so my mom chose a different version of that name. 

Thus, I was named "Veronica."

Therefore, as far as I understood the matter, I wasn't even named the name I was actually meant to be named, so my name didn't mean much of anything.  

Of course, I cherished my name to some degree, but only for the sake that I was name (to some extent) for my grandmother. 

But I would ponder the myth of Saint Veronica.

Why would anyone wipe the face of a man in such agony?  It did not seem likely. What good would that do?  

And so things remained until my father's suffering.   

At the end, my father suffered greatly, as most people do, and we suffered with him, watching him suffer.  

I remember stepping out of my dad's room at hospice for a moment and questioning God, "Why?" 

It was my father's right to hold on to life and live as long as he possibly could, and I tried not resent him for that. 

But why would God allow so much suffering if the result was going to be death anyway?

Every moment of suffering seemed so pointless and cruel. 

God did not provide an answer to my question (or accusation) then, but He gave me the resolve to continue caring for my dad, because my dad was still there. 

My father couldn't speak or move or eat or drink, but he could close his mouth on a sponge filled with water, so we would offer that to quench his thirst. 

I remember being frustrated that I could do so little.  

Then I realized my father was still in his body, still had all his senses, and I could bless his body.

It was a simple good, but it was a good I could do, so I wet a cloth and began wiping his arms and legs and chest.

And as I pulled the damp cloth down over his face, I heard almost audibly the words pronounced over me, "Saint Veronica."  

And in that brief moment, I remembered her story. She had wipe His face while He had been suffering towards death. 

Her story was my story.

And of course it was. 

I was outside of time for a moment then, seeing myself, looking back at my conversion, forward to myself in glory. It was all one to God and I was in Him. 

I was standing at my father's bedside again, where I had been all along, but I knew now that as terrible as these moments were, they were precious and I was literally meant to be here at this moment living them out.   

Like Ransom in the book, I realized "It is not for nothing..."  

I knew that nothing had been accidental (or even incidental) about my name being what it was 

or my life being what it was 

or my father's life being what it was.

And that revelation comforted me to endure the reality of those harsh days.  

Those moments were precious, they were terrible, and they were meant to be.  

"...the triple distinction of truth from myth and of both from fact was purely terrestrial," Ransom says.  

Yes, I could see then. In God's eyes, truth and myth and fact are all one.   

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