Dull sublunary lovers’ love 

   (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit 

Absence, because it doth remove 

   Those things which elemented it. 

But we by a love so much refined, 

   That our selves know not what it is, 

Inter-assured of the mind, 

   Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss. 

Our two souls therefore, which are one, 

   Though I must go, endure not yet 

A breach, but an expansion, 

   Like gold to airy thinness beat. 

John Donne

Somehow we, creatures of time and space, never cease to be amazed at the passage of time. Perhaps it is because eternity is in our hearts and while all we have ever known is limited to the ticking of a clock, inwardly we yearn for that immutable place of divine constancy.

I am determined then not to exclaim dramatically over it being 8 years since Damian’s Glory Day. It is a fact, albeit a hard and sad one, of this life that is as unchanging as the eternal state. But there is beauty and perception from this passage of time that is worthy of deep reflection.

He is gone but as the years go by, that distance feels more like Donne’s expansion than breach, a gold wire ladder reaching up into heaven. That is an enormous perception shift that brings a whole new face to death. It turns loss into gain and sorrow into peace. It flips grief from pointing inside to me to pointing upwards to God. It has taken time for my heart to catch up to my brain; for emotional conviction to align with spiritual knowledge. And all the while, that little golden thread has thickened and grown into a scalable ladder. He isn’t so far away after all–Glory is just on the other side and he is helping to bridge that gap into really nothing at all. After all, do we not drink from the same living water here on earth that we will drink up there? Do we not live today as we will Tomorrow, in joyful service to the King of kings? Do our hearts not lift up in adoration today as they will for all eternity? Is not God’s very presence a part of our every day life?

Looking back, the memories are washed with the kindness of God. And I feel like my emotions are almost roused more by contemplating our Shepherd’s love than anything else. The way He carried us through, the ways He made Himself known to us are experiences that yes, required my son’s death to gain and yet I do not, can not regret that for a moment. He came near in the most intimate way possible, through the most innocent of humanity.

Could He not have used some other means to draw us closer to Him, to know Him more, if that was indeed the end goal? Did the golden expansion have to fitted into place in this way?

I no longer ask why he was taken because the answer is abundantly clear.

Damian’s death was God’s perfect will for him and for us

There was no other way.

At the time Damian went Home, we were being assailed by carnal men to stand for what we knew and has later proved to be lies. The pressure was enormous to stay within the system. Yet the worst was yet to come. By God’s grace and providential wisdom, He first brought David and I into a quiet place: broken and alone but with God. No one else understood our hearts and our grief. We could only turn in to each other and up to our God, a loving, loving Father. Oh how He carried us through in His everlasting arms!

Billows wild, black the fright

Against white shore do rage

Beneath the cliff a flickering light

Gift of refuge

Hope to spare you

Presence before the soul must engage

That war of Spirit fought

The ransom bought

Forever with innocent blood.

I don’t think we could have made it through that spiritual battle as a couple had our love not been forged in the burning furnace of grief. And I know for certain God gifted us with knowing more of His love and His Self to give us the courage to carry on. The golden thread was always there, filling the breach, bringing us back to Him.

We were too broken for pride. Too sad for self interest. As a reaction to all God had been to us, there was only one appropriate response: to sacrifice our all for Him.

To quote that old hymn: If I could only tell Him as I know Him. He is so worthy, dear Reader, of your everything. Words fail to describe how tenderly He drew near, how real His presence through the dark valley. It is humbling to think the King of Glory came to a small NICU, rode in a Red Cross ambulance, stood by at a concrete tomb. But He did, because that is exactly who our God is. There is no one like Him.

So Damian, dear boy, your life and death have never been in vain. See you soon in the land of Glory. You’re lucky to have already been there for 8 years.

Damian Philip Alves Shutt, just a few days old

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