April 30; A Relationship To Die For;
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Four: Relationships; 30 April

Greater love has no one than this:

to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13

A Relationship To Die For

Pain

Chapel USAF Academy

Chapel
USAF Academy
Photo Credit: Helena Yoest

Years ago Charmaine and I took the Penta-Posse to visit the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains. We entered the famous chapel; it is more truly a cathedral. Outwardly, it is all sleek silver-wing metal, with seventeen external buttresses, knifing severely skyward. Designed to evoke an air-frame, the architecture does not immediately summon spiritual devotion.

But cross the threshold—it’s not locked—step inside, and one is transported to another plane. The solemn air is bathed in the soft splendor of muted light. While the stern steel silhouette dominates the external view, the interior reveals the fragile panels of stained-glass that the harsh ribs support. The intricate glass panes filter and animate the sunlight, illuminating the sacred space with almost a visual hush.

Chapel Cross Photo Credit: Helena Yoest

Chapel Cross
Photo Credit:
Helena Yoest

At the front of the chapel, a single row is roped off. “Reserved” the sign says, for all the United States aviators who are missing in action or prisoners of war. The only occupant of the pew is a single, burning candle.

Greater love has no one than this… reads the plaque. It alludes to John 15:13, which concludes: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Lost sons. My heart blanches. How could I bear it? And yet so many other moms and dads — gold-star parents — even this very day, must find a way when their sons have given the last measure of devotion.

The war in heaven, and its reflection that we see through a glass darkly, is one of the great mysteries of human life. The existence of horrible earthly evil is incomprehensible. Yet for every act of aggressive hatred there seems to be a spiritual foe the love of humans one for another that confronts and overcomes all would-be destroyers.

At the back of the chapel, a Lucite case displays a picture of a little boy who was “Cadet for a Day.” In a series of three pictures, we saw a grinning boy, sitting in a cockpit dressed in a flight-suit, surrounded by a smiling corps of cadets.

I was drawn to the display immediately, wanting such a grand experience for our own Sons of Thunder.

Down at the bottom of the picture, however, in small type, the caption read:

Make-a-Wish Foundation.

No, no, no. Not my boy.

Where are the answers? Why must the innocent suffer? The vast, vacant space of the chapel responds with a twilight hush.

Our ten-year old first-born daughter looks over my shoulder. “Do kids really get cancer?” she asks.

Yes, honey. Yes, they do.

Confronted by pain, hearing the inner cacophony of fear and sorrow, we search longingly for answers. Into that void, art whispers.

The soaring height of the chapel-cathedral is designed to draw our eyes forward and upward. Suspended at the apex of the sanctuary, the culmination of our contemplation, hangs a cross. Silent testimony to love without measure.

The glory of a cathedral speaks to a truth beyond reason that we can only intuit, only feel in our hearts, only really know in our souls.

We don’t know the full answer to the question of suffering. But we do know that our humanity rests in our response to it.

Do we pay honor where it is due? Do we offer comfort and care where it is needed?

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

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