I am fresh off a plane from Canada. I spent about a week with my family and partially helped pack up The Farm, a gorgeous country property that was in the family for about 35 years. I’ll write more about that trip another time. I wrote the following blog while on a plane back from my US business trip in early May. This will be the beginning of a torrent of blogs on what’s been happening with me lately – read spiritually. I am without doubt in a season of total surrender.
I'm on a plane and writing a blog I've wanted to write for a long, long time about Megan Farrell who died in November of last year. Tess wrote about that week in this blog. The theme of this topic has been building for a long, long time - since as early as 1982 with the puzzle now coming into clearer view - but of late my life has been somewhat of a spiritual and emotional earthquake.
Megan was the daughter of a friend of mine, Colin. Colin and I attend a weekly Bible study/men's prayer group at lunch on Thursdays. For some time we'd been praying for Megan who struggled with an eating disorder but in the months proceeding her death made positive turns for the best. In the days before her death Megan caught a flu bug and it was just one of those cases where the bug took her down. Colin found her on a Saturday morning as I was about to head to the US. On the way to the airport I received a text message from another mutual friend that read, "pls pray for the farrell family, daughter megan, 16, passed away this morning, patrick."
At first I didn't understand, then finally what had happened hit me like a sledge hammer. I made some frantic phone calls as the Holy Ghost began to place the weight of this event on my shoulders. I was deeply, deeply troubled. I could hardly be with myself. The flight to the US was dark. The Sunday in the US was darker as I visited two of my favourite US churches in the Silicon Valley area, dwelling in the heaviness of Megan’s death.
While in the US I reached out to Colin via e-mail. To my surprise Colin wrote back. I considered myself on the low end of priorities at that moment, but he took the time to respond. I felt very much called to put together a photo video of Megan's life. I had no idea how it would be used or when, but the call was there. Colin agreed, provided I understood that he also didn’t know when it would be used. Meanwhile, he was living my worst nightmare: the death of one's child.
I landed back in Hong Kong and the process of making the video began. Over the course of the next week two things happened. First, and this might be a bit harsh, but I questioned if somehow Megan’s death was a failure of Christian brothers - not specifically at any individual, but as a whole, had the community supported Colin as much as we could? This sense grew as I sifted through hundreds of photos of Megan: some I received from Colin and his family and others that came off a Facebook group created as a tribute to Megan. Megan’s school reserved a classroom for students to visit and post messages/pictures of and to Megan. Tess and I visited, snapping pictures from here, too.
After viewing, cropping, enhancing hundreds of pictures, I knew Megan in a whole new way. That was heavy. I couldn't help but wonder if those of us who had prayed for Megan knew her, as we could have known her. Could my prayers have been more pointed, powerful, precise and thereby interceded more effectively for a different outcome? Megan was a committed Christian. There seemed no question of Megan's salvation - although it's not for me to judge - but heavy on my heart was the question, "What about those who don't know Christ, Charles, or who have fallen away? How many of those will...?" This notion that I – and maybe others - could have done more weighed heavily on my heart and has continued since then. At various prayer groups we've discussed the idea and since then made a greater effort to get out of our "prayer comfort zones."
Second, that week I had the privilege of being closer to Colin and his family than one would typically expect considering the circumstances and that it was only Colin who I knew. Through the video production and offering our "people mover" to ferry people back and forth to and from different events I had the privilege of being available. That gave me a humbling glimpse into the family’s world. What I most appreciated was how much they trusted me to be around for the fleeting moments when I was here and there. The funeral, held by Ambassador Church at Union Church, was wonderful and extraordinary: an amazing message of hope in the midst of a huge family tragedy. Below is the video I made that played twice as people arrived at the church before the service started.
About six weeks later Editha died. Her story can be found here. Tess has asked many times: "if things happen in '3s' then what or who is next?" Well we probably don't know, and even if we did, we wouldn't prophesize at this point but certainly we're praying for the situation. Meanwhile, since Megan’s death I have taken more time for and with my friends’ kids… taken those extra few seconds or minutes to connect with them more meaningfully. If those moments count towards making a better world for others, then from what I have learned of Megan, she would be happy. I have also made attempts to step beyond my spiritual comfort zone and thanks to God, I am getting considerable prompting in that area. Stay tuned for details.
"Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There's no end to what has happened in you—it's beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives." 1 Corinthians 1:4-6