Because Life can only be lived a moment at a time.

Bitter. Sweet. Repeat.

The little boy with special needs had been staring at me all day. I was working as a substitute aide in his classroom and one of the other aides said he was obsessed with me because I was a new face.

He didn't talk, not with words anyway. But he was able to communicate clearly about what he did---and did not---want to do.

At the end of the school day I crouched in front of him to zip up his coat. As I struggled to get the zipper started he leaned over and kissed the top of my head tenderly.

Then, in less than a breath, he grabbed two fistfuls of my hair and pulled. Hard.

I gasped for assistance as I worked to extricate my hair from one of the tiny Goliath's fists. The other teachers and aides rushed to free me while managing to handle the boy with great gentleness.

Sweetness one moment, pain the next. Life.

I don't have to explain it to you, this pendulum from which we swing: Back and forth, back and forth, joy to woe, excitement to disappointment, high to low and back again.

Back in the late nineties Mr. Pettit was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As Charles Dickens would say, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."

The best: Mr. Pettit enjoyed his job and our family tried to take in all that the Academy and the surrounding area had to offer. We attended Falcon football and hockey games and we all tried skiing. (We decided we prefer snowmobiles.) We hit the road in our pop-up camper, seeing much of  Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. We got the chance to see an enormous full moon over Cheyenne and the deep green slopes of the Absaroka Mountains.

The worst: We lost our three remaining parents in an 18-month period. (My father had passed away in 1988.) It began with the passing of Mr. Pettit's father in December 1995, followed by the losses of my mother in November 1996 and Mr. Pettit's mother in April 1997.

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia
I don't share this story to summon your sympathy, for we are all well acquainted with grief. Reversals of fortune and even the coexistence of sweetness and sorrow are common in this life. I confess that when things are going well I tend to look over my shoulder, wondering when the good times will stop and the bad will take over.

Yesterday was Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the death of Jesus of Nazareth on a cross. We believe He died to pay the penalty for our mistakes. Tomorrow we'll celebrate Easter, the day Jesus came back to life, proof that He was no ordinary teacher, but the Son of God Himself.

This was no simple swish of the pendulum; it was the difference between death and life, between separation and union. And this time there would be no swinging between negative and positive, no moving from low to high and high to low. Good Friday gave way to Easter morning and there was no going back. Jesus's sacrifice on our behalf allows us to shift permanently from alienation to communion, free to be the people He created us to be.

Unfortunately, we can't hop off this crazy ride between joy and pain. As long as we're breathing we'll have to contend with a mix of good and bad. Even Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble." But He didn't stop there: "But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NIV)

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Wide Open Spaces

Undead Love