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The veil

Over the last few weeks as I have walked through the minutes and days of June, a thought has run through my mind. One particular thought – over and over – as I spent time with my brother’s family on his birthday, heard about tragic loss of life in Orlando, experienced a friend’s joyous birthday celebration, read a Facebook post from a friend about three sons lost in seven days in her town, watched my fifth grader wind up her elementary school experience, found out that a friend is facing cancer, had long talks with my sister-in-law, went to a game-changing educational conference, heard that a teenage boy died following a head-on car crash in a nearby town.

This thought, over and over again: The veil is so thin.

I can’t stop thinking about it. I wonder if I am making up for lost time, because not that long ago, I had no concept of the thinness of the veil, nor did I imagine that the thing separating us from the truth of the fragility of life was a veil. Back then I thought we had a solid protective wall that we could build up through effort and initiative, brick by brick, with our good deeds and healthful habits (and a few good genes if we were fortunate enough). Back then I didn’t really understand there even was a truth of the fragility of life to be separated from.

That was before so many things happened – both in my life and the lives of others close to me. Now I know. It’s a veil, and the veil is so thin.

We can be so complacent, so comfortable, so confident in our ability to create the world we want to live in. We build that brick wall, certain that it will protect us from the tragedies we fear. When crises do not occupy our minds we fixate on earnings and home décor, possessions and politics, summer camps and school awards, the ups and downs of our careers and the drama of communication over social media. But for some of us, and more of us every day, there’s that moment that changes everything. That mind-numbing call from the doctor, the brutal crash, the heartbreaking suicide, the terrifying encounter with a wild animal, the devastating shooting. The veil is ripped away and the bricks crumble, because it was the veil holding them together all along, not our fancy bricklaying and high-end mortar.

Truly it can be a beautiful veil. But it is so thin.

I’ve realized that I can’t think about this all the time. It’s too consuming a thought. As I drove home today from my parents’ place, navigating the highway as my husband and daughters sang 1980s pop tunes in the car, it occurred to me how easily a moment like this could end for us or for anyone on the road, how quickly the veil could be pulverized. Then I had to put the thought out of my mind. I couldn’t think about it and keep living and driving and breathing at the same time.

With the veil gone and the brick wall fallen away, the view of everything from the precipice of this moment is dizzying. However, here’s what I find amazing: I thought without those protections I would fall into the abyss, yet I’m still here. There must be something else holding me, holding all of us. Something thinner than the veil, so thin as to be invisible, yet stronger than anything on earth. I can only imagine it is love.

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