But a whisper

Faith & Inspiration
by Andrée Seu Peterson

Posted on Thursday, October 15, 2015, at 9:11 am

I was on the yearbook committee in high school and our adviser suggested the following text under a photo of the prom:

“This is the way the ball will end, not with a bang but a whisper.”

I didn’t understand. What in that world is that supposed to mean?

That’s what you get when 15-year-olds work on yearbooks. Sister Katherine Murray prevailed, and now at age 63 I can look at the volume we produced without arguing with her.

Last month, my next-door neighbor died. She has been “Kathie next door” for 28 years, and now she’s not there. I am always tempted these days to look out the window and pretend she’s still inside the house and I just imagined the whole thing. It makes me feel better for two seconds—and I’ll take it.

The funny thing is the way she went so quietly and without fanfare. Oh, it’s true she had cancer and we knew about it for months, for years, if you count the first bout. But it didn’t seem to bother her that much until mid-summer; she was still going out to breakfast with her husband and looked fairly normal except that her eyes didn’t focus well. (The disease was in her brain.)

A few of the neighbors went to the funeral, and nice words were said, and we were all sad. But today the neighborhood is back to normal (a new normal) and conversations are less and less about Kathie. Now I know the meaning of the quote under the prom picture:

“… So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits” (James 1:11).

It’s the “fading away” part that gets me (Kathie was not rich). How unceremoniously we depart, more like a mist than a solid. And the very house perversely stands, wood and yard, forgetting you after a while

“… he returns no more to his house, nor does his place know him anymore” (Job 7:10).

There must be a lesson in here somewhere, and indeed there is, for God plants teachable moments wherever we turn, and the wise will take it to heart and learn, even when His speech is but a whisper, not a bang:

“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (Psalm 103:16).

Nevertheless, our God never ends on a minor key, as the next verse in the Psalm tells us—and it helps when I think about Kathie:

“But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him. …”

Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine and the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.

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