Pathways through Lent

My Father’s Storm

Psalm 69:1–38 Exodus 1:6–22 1 Corinthians 12:12–26 Mark 8:27–9:1

Every year on March 14—which usually falls during Lent—I think of my father, who was born on this day in 1904.

In 1989, pancreatic cancer began to ravage his purposeful gait and silence his infectious laughter. During this time, Dad rested in a room of our home that held large picture windows overlooking the woods. That room was directly below the room where, years earlier, he had unexpectedly delivered me—feet first. He always retold this story in near disbelief, concluding, When the BCC Rescue Squad finally arrived, I held you up by one foot and said, Here, take it! I’ve had it!

In September of that year, my sister called to say Dad was dying. When I arrived, she and my mom were seated next to him with their backs against those windows. I took my place on the other side, taking in the full view of the woods, and grasped Dad’s still-warm hand.

Then something unfolded that, to me, bears witness to the powerful connection between us, nature, and God. Gradually, as Dad’s breath weakened, it seemed that his breath was pulled from his body to make energy for the brewing rain storm. Soon his shallow breaths yielded blackening skies and fiercely whipping wind against the trees. Once the downpour began, Dad was gone.

My sister and mother sobbed as I sat in awe of what I had witnessed. Dad was present—as he is this year in Lent and every year since. His purposeful gait and infectious laughter were now rollicking in his newly wooded berth. And I imagine Dad said to God moments before that downpour, Here, take it. I’ve had it.

–Lisa Koehler

March 14

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