Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Red leafs must break

Our lives are held together by a string of deaths and births.

We lose things; we gain things. We say hello; we say goodbye. Hope is born; hope takes flight; hope dies. Red leafs tell us about death every autumn; green leafs tell us about life every spring.
The seed  must break in order to let go the shoot,
the leafbud must break to let go the leaf,
the flowerbud break to let go the flower,
the petals drop off to let the fruit form.
- Elisabeth Elliot, A Path Through Suffering
So, in breaking, the purpose of each is fulfilled. By losing and gaining, in coming and fading, we live out the ebb and flow of this shore we call time.

Life and pain often comes hand in hand, from our very first breath. Newborn babies cry because they are forced to leave the warmth and comfort of their mothers' womb. At our births, we felt the first cold that cut our skin, the first light that pierced our eyes. We felt the pain of hunger and needles and being alone.

But these were small in comparison to the pain that our mothers bore for our sake. We are alive because of our mothers' pain; their bodies were broken that we might live. Water was spilled, blood was shed. In their worst hour of pain, we were crowned—with the gift of life's first breath.

April 1 marks one of the more memorable births and deaths in my short existence.

Even as I am typing this, I hear the voices of doctors and nurses and Hans telling me to breathe. Breathe! Take another breath, now push! Now breathe. I thought I was pushing Emeth out. But we gained much more than a baby boy that day. And we lost much more than blood and water and sleep.

Seven years ago, Emeth was born at 9:41 a.m. Seven years ago, Hans and I died, again. I became a mother; Hans became a father. Just as we left our former selves behind at the altar where we were wedded, we left other parts of me, of him, of us—in that hospital room where Emeth was born. We did not know it at the time, but we would never be the same again. We were broken for the sake of another.

So, today, I give thanks for our brokenness, for the brokenness that is the very fount of life. Red leafs must break in the fall for new leafs to grow in the spring.


estherogen said...

Heart friend,

I have been thinking of you on this trip around the world. I remember how in a letter only you could write, you said "if you were a necklace..."

Well, if you were a necklace, you'd be a string of pearls, alternating black and white. And you would travel with me, and take in all the wonder and magic of the world here.

The tides transform Italy every day. In different ways back in the Riviera, now in Venice (at night, the whole city turns into a maze, forcing you into alternate routes as the familiar ones are flooded!).

Please give Emeth my best! Happy birthday from Auntie Esther who misses him very much (and hopes that HIEYK come to NYC this summer!).

Doria Tai said...


You write beautifully about birth and death, so witty and "ngam" (Hakka word for accurate). Learn so much from you. Keep it up !

Anonymous said...

One of the most beautiful things I have read in a long, long time. Sarah enjoyed it very much, too. I read it to her.

Irene Sun said...

Thank you, friends. It has been a relentless week in the Suns household. Life was full of many opportunities -- to die to ourselves. We are learning, slowly.

Esther, Thank you for taking me with you. Black pearls are so beautiful.

Doria, I love that word "ngam"! And I love hearing from you.

Andrew - The picture of you reading to Sarah cheered me up on more than one occasion. Hans reads to me as well, and these are among my happiest memories (though he likes me remind me how I tend to fall asleep during these readings). =)

Julie said...

Irene, I've been wanting to tell you that I read Elliot's "These Strange Ashes". All in one day. It was precious, beautifully written and beautiful truth! Thanks for recommending it! <3