A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man;
the living should take this to heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 - 2
A hospital. A medical center. A house of mourning. A house of feasting. I find it intriguing how one place can be experienced so differently by each of its visitors. Even then, how it can be experienced differently each visit for each visitor. One may walk through its doors in great expectation of new life or renewed life. Another day, that same one may walk through its doors with great sorrow and heaviness of heart knowing final moments and possibly final breaths may be shared. Scripture says it is better to be the latter. That's not to say the former is bad. It's just not as good.
The week prior to Christmas, I had the joy of helping welcome a sweet baby boy into our community. The waiting room was filled with predictions, hope, joy and excitement. A perfect, almost 9-pound early Christmas present was delivered in great health with the cry of new life.
The week after Christmas, I received a call that my grandfather was losing his battle with cancer. Conversations were peppered with "hospice" and "comfortable." My mother and I sat on either side of his bed holding his hands and watched an old black & white movie with him in a rare moment of ease. I wondered if this would be one of the last times I would share the same air with him. I wondered what he was thinking as we watched the movie. I wondered if he wondered if this would be a last shared moment with my mother and me. My mind was less focused on the days between birth and death and more focused on the last day. The last moment. The last breath.
What would I be thinking? Where would my hope rest?
Today, we walk into the house of duplicity. I am grateful for the gravitational pull of that house. Each visit for a scan or a check up holds the possibility of either disposition. The potential of experiencing its mourning shakes my heart to its foundation. Am I founded on the hope of tomorrow or on Christ in me, the hope of glory?
Truly, it is better to go to the house of mourning.