Ten Thousand Angels

There was an era in my life when the moments I saw all of my friends were at weddings. In the next era, the moments were when someone gave birth to a child. I’m not ready to move on to era when the gatherings happen because of a funeral, but here we are.

Some friends of mine were told a while back by doctors that they would never be able to have a child. If Adriene and I did not have good odds to have a child, theirs were significantly smaller. And yet, by a small miracle, she conceived. Then came the hammer blow a few months later at their ultrasound. The baby was not developing any kidneys and had no chance of survival. They knew that he would not live long after his birth. We’ve had great sorrow for their family for some time now. It hits too close to home. We had mostly minor issues with our pregnancy, but I can remember some scary moments in July 2007 when there was a very real possibility that our girls might be born two months too early. The edge between joy and despair in a birth is so narrow.

Last week, Nathan was born and for two hours he was surrounded by family and friends before passing away. His parents’ prayers were answered as he was born alive, eyes open, breathing and in the arms of his loving parents. I can’t help but think what a blessed time that was amidst all of the sadness. For those two hours, I’ll bet they lived fully in the present and embraced every moment. I try to remind myself of that when I’m wrapped in nostalgia or regret for the past or anxiety for the future. Whether you are one day old or 50 years old, not another hour is promised.

I know Sandra McCracken says the song “Ten Thousand Angels” was written for a friend for her wedding and that interpretation makes much more sense but the first time I heard it I thought it was about a birth (maybe it’s because I first heard it just a few months before my girls were born.) Today that interpretation rose to the surface of my mind again. The lyrics “everything worth keeping comes through dying” seemed to resonate particularly and all through the funeral all I could think of was ten thousand angels lighting a path for Nathan to come home. Love has come for you.

Ten Thousand Angels
words and lyrics by Sandra McCracken

how long you have traveled in darkness weeping
no rest in language, no words to speak
but there in the wreckage beneath bricks and bindings
love has come, love has come for you

against the night sky of your waiting
your face is like starlight when he walks in
everything worth keeping comes through dying
love has come, love has come for you

so lift up your heart now, to this unfolding
all that has been broken will be restored
here runs deep waters for all who are thirsty
love has come, love has come for you

ten thousand angels will light your pathway
until the day breaks fully in the East
they will surround you and make your way straight
love has come, love has come for you
love has come, love has come for you