by Rev. Andrew Taylor-Troutman, author of “Parables of Parenthood”

Good Friday darkened March 25 this year, a date that marks the Feast of the Annunciation when the archangel Gabriel, also known as the voice of God, announced to a young peasant girl that she was highly favored among mortals. Conception and crucifixion. Joy and grief. Feast and fast, together on a single day.

My second son was born at 10:28 AM. He did not make a sound. The cord was wrapped once, twice around his neck. Even before I had a chance to be fully alarmed, nurses flew into action, their six hands a whirlwind over his body. And the oxygen mask to my son’s face. Once, twice. And Asa, whose name means healer, let out a short, staccato burst of a cry, as sure an amen as I have ever heard.

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Nine days later, Asa’s great-grandfather Don lay motionless on a Hospice bed. He exhaled softly. One beat, two beats; three and four. Nothing. A nurse, quietly and gracefully, move to his side, her fingers pressed against his neck, searching. Nothing. Time of death, 10:28 AM.

The feast and the fast. Sublime moments of “terrible beauty” wrote Yeats. The “both/and” of Kairos: the joy and terror, gratitude and regret, holy in every sense of the word, set apart for eternity.

The more this Protestant pastor prayerfully reflects on such things, the more I am drawn to that young peasant girl from long ago. O Hail Mary, full of grace! What can this be save a plea that victory might be snatched from the jaws of defeat? That death be swallowed up in life, a feast celebrated on the ashes? And a newborn’s healing cry heard at the last.

Andrew is the pastor of New Dublin Presbyterian Church and has written three books published by Wipf and Stock. In addition to Asa, he and his wife, Ginny, share a son named Sam. Learn more at www.takemyhandmemoir.com.

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