Saturday, July 21, 2007

Search Resumes for Brian and Nikko

10:00 p.m. ET:

This Saturday evening report and video give information about Saturday's search and of the climbers' gear that was found. Obviously it is a big disappointment that they did not find Brian and Nikko today. At the same time, it is deeply encouraging that so many search volunteers turned out and that they haven't given up on their hope of finding and bringing the two missing climbers home and giving closure to their grieving families.

Here's another news report with a video that was filmed Friday before the search began:

5:20 p.m. ET:

Searchers located some of the climbers' gear stashed a couple hundred feet above where Kelly, Brian and Nikko started their climb.

12:00 p.m. ET:

Searchers are back on Mt. Hood this weekend looking for Brian Hall and Nikko Cooke. See these Portland area news reports from KGW and KATU for more information about today's search, along with articles and videos from December 2006:

Thanks for your prayers.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Disney, Dreams and Dancing in the Street

Contrary to all the television ads, summer is the wrong time to visit Disney World in Orlando. In summer, the weather is miserably hot and humid. You can get soaked (or zapped by lightning) in one of Florida’s afternoon monsoons. The place is jammed with tourists, and you’re sure to spend a lot of time standing in lines.

But when Jack, our thirteen-year-old nephew and the youngest of Kelly’s four kids, came to see us, none of that seemed to matter.

Our mid-afternoon decision to take an ice cream break just happened to coincide with Disney’s daily Main Street parade. We sat with our ice cream cones at a cafĂ© table off to the side from all the commotion, while Main Street erupted with a virtual Who’s Who of Disney characters scampering and dancing about, singing jubilantly: “Just believe and your dreams will come true!”

I felt a bit disoriented listening to the music, sitting there between my husband and my nephew who carry around with them an unseen ache and broken dreams that no amount of wishing on a star can fix.

In some ways it all seems backwards. I mean, shouldn’t Christians be the ones singing and dancing in the street? Shouldn’t we be the ones whose dreams are coming true, who are on top of the world? After all, we belong to God. We are His children—loved and pursued by Him. We have His promises. When trouble strikes, we know where to go for help. Yet here we sit on the sidelines with melting ice cream and broken hearts, missing Kelly, while others are dancing.

When Paul said, “we sorrow not as others,” he was reassuring us that the sorrow we experience in this world is mingled with the solid hope that sorrow won’t have the last word. Somewhere along the line, however, his words have also come to mean, in some sense, we sorrow less than others. Somehow, because of hope, we’re supposed to rise above our losses. We should have the strength not to fall apart or burst into loud sobs at the funeral. We should smile bravely, hold our heads up high, and show the world the difference faith makes at a time like this.

But when the loss is so personal, I wonder if the difference between how we and the world sorrow means that at some level we sorrow more, not less.

The prophet Isaiah described the Messiah as “a man of sorrows.” We see the man of sorrows when He weeps at the tomb of Lazarus. Jesus didn’t weep because He was helpless to prevent Lazarus’ death or because He didn’t know what to do now that his friend was dead.

At one level, Jesus’ weeping reassures us that God doesn’t keep Himself at a safe emotional distance from the sorrows we experience. His heart is bound up with us. He is moved with compassion. He knows how the story will ultimately end. But He enters into our sorrows now and He weeps with us.

But is there a sense in which we, in our sorrows, enter into His greater sorrow? When God created the world, he didn’t allocate space for cemeteries, hospitals, counseling centers, or legal courts. He created a perfect world. And we have spoiled/are spoiling it. According to His original plan, Kelly at 48, Ruth Bell Graham at 87, the stillborn child, the young soldier returning home in a flag draped coffin are all cut short. And so, although God knows exactly what to do about it and has launched a global rescue operation to make sure His world is eventually put right, that joyful prospect doesn’t negate the enormity of His sorrow now.

We grieve individual losses, estrangements, prodigals, broken down lives, the shattered dream. He grieves a world of losses, a world of shattered dreams. We suffer the blinding ache of a parent over a prodigal child. He feels the same ache for a prodigal planet. His is the distress of a master craftsman over a masterpiece destroyed—for the way things are is not the way He meant for things to be.

And so for the moment, we sorrow more. We sorrow for our losses, for our corner of His fallen world. And in our sorrowing, we enter into His grief. We sorrow, but not as others who have no hope. Our hope is sure. And that means one day we’ll be dancing in the streets, even if we don’t feel like dancing now.


Friday, July 13, 2007

A Kindred Spirit

Frank and I came across this lament on The Internet Monk's blog and reprint it here with his kind permission and our hope that his honest, heartfelt lament will minister to you as it did to us.

I Miss You

How long, O LORD?
Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?

—Psalm 13:1-2

I miss you God.

It’s like you’re not around.

I see your world. I’m with your people. I’m surrounded by books about you. I read about you and talk about you. I teach others about you.

But I miss you.

I believe you’re there. I believe the Bible. I believe in Jesus. I don’t doubt your existence at all.

I miss you.

You. Not your people, or songs about you or books about you. I miss you.

I don’t miss all the theology in the books, the blogs and the lectures. I don’t miss the points of all the sermons. Or the answers to questions.

I have all those. Far more than I need, to be honest. But when David says, “Why are you hiding from me?” I know exactly what he is talking about.

I’m missing you, God.

All of the activities that go on where you are talked about don’t bring you to me. Nothing that’s said or done in church fills this empty place.

When I pray, I feel like I’m talking, and that’s all. I don’t feel like I’m your child and you are there delighting in me. I feel you are far away.

It’s like you moved on and didn’t leave your address. It’s like we lived in the same house, but you’ve moved out without telling me where you went.

I cried out to you last night. Over and over. I want you to hear me. I don’t need to get your attention. I believe you’re close by. But I can’t see, sense or feel you. I feel alone. Like I am talking to myself.

I am starting to resent those who know you are close to them. Why am I different?

When I knew less, when I was considered young and ignorant, I felt you close to me. Then I grew up, and now I’m in the middle of life. It feels like I have lost you along the way. Somewhere in the crowd I let go of your hand, and now I’m alone. I’m calling out, but there is no answer.

There are people who will ridicule me for saying I want you. They will say I’m too interested in emotion. I don’t care what they say. This isn’t about my theology. My theology is as good as I can make it by all my efforts at study. No, this is about being able to stop and say “God is close to me. God delights in me. God is my friend, my father, my ever-present Abba.”

Where did you go? Why did you go away? Did my sins make you go away? Are you teaching me something? Are you taking away your presence so I will walk on, by faith, without you? Is this the “trough” C.S. Lewis wrote about? Will there ever be an explanation?

I’m weary of explanations and answers. I’m worn out with principles and illustrations. I’ve heard talking for what seems like an eternity and it doesn’t bring you closer to me.

When this happens, I hear voices telling me I shouldn’t need to feel you, and I shouldn’t even want to feel you. They will say I’m not reading and believing the verses. They will tell me I’m not trusting.

I may not be trusting you as I should. It’s harder and harder to trust you in this loneliness. It’s hard to turn away from this emptiness and tell myself you are real. I believe all of the right things in my mind, but my heart is aching to have you close to me again.

You’ve seen my tears. I don’t suppose they impress you. Maybe they are selfish, or sinful. I just don’t know anymore. Those tears are my way of saying I want you again. I want you in the way I experienced you before anyone said “He’s smart” or “He knows about God.”

I miss you so much.

Please come back to me. Please tell me what to do. Please.

Michael Spencer
The Internet Monk
July 12th, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Search Resumes on the Mountain

It has been quite a while since either Frank or I have posted anything. I'm realizing it isn't always easy to write about things so close to the heart, especially when the rest of life keeps moving at its usual hectic pace. On the outside, grieving takes a backseat to everything else, but on the inside there's an ache that never seems to go away. Which is, I guess, the reason so many of you keep coming to this website. At least here, we can admit we're hurting.

Since our last post, we have spent time with family members—Karen, all four of Kelly's kids, and Frank's mom. Everyone has good days and bad days. To be sure, there are moments when sadness sweeps over us and the tears flow. There are moments when we are bewildered by the mysterious ways of God. And there are moments when we miss Kelly so much it seems unbearable. But every day we forge on steadily ahead with our broken hearts. We all appreciate your prayers and expressions of love.

Uppermost on our minds now is the continuing search for Brian and Nikko. Sheriff Wampler told Frank they have never stopped searching by air. In June, the sheriff met with SAR teams to plan another search on the ground to take place in mid-July once the weather warms and Mount Hood sheds her snowy winter coat. Portland area temperatures were in the upper 90˚s Wednesday, so hopefully the warm summer air is working on the mountain. A search at lower elevations is scheduled for the weekend of July 21. Another search of the Eliot Glacier area, involving about 100 volunteer climbers with the Oregon Mountain Rescue Council, is planned for September 8.

For more details, see this July 10 report:

We will let you know if we hear anything. We are hopeful that they will be able to find Brian and Nikko and bring closure to their families and loved ones. I think Sheriff Wampler and the many volunteer searchers need the closure as well.

Meanwhile, please keep the sheriff and the searchers in your prayers.

Carolyn and Frank