Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Unexpected Things In Life

On Monday, during a phone conversation with my Nana, I learned about death of Robert Howard, Shea High School-Class of 1994 and former Rhode Island All-State Triple Jumper and Olympian. She mentioned some odd details and I have been following the story in the media, i.e. the ProJo website (that's Rhode Islandese for The Providence Journal). Robert Howard was a med-student at the University of Arkansas and had been married for about a year. Campus police, upon discovering a trail of blood near some of the dorms followed it, found Howard in a dorm wearing scrubs and covered in blood. Howard fled, locked himself in a room, was able to open a window on the 10th floor and jumped to his death. Police found his wife brutally stabbed in their off campus apartment a short time later. She was a Harvard graduate, who joined the Marines and then went to Arkansas to become a neurosurgeon. Reports indicate that Howard was unhappy about not qualifying for this years games in Athens, specualtion appears to be that this could have been a contributing factor to his state of mind Saturday evening.

I saw a picture of Robert Howard in one of the articles I have read and realized that I had, in passing, known this man. Not just by name, he graduating from Providence's Shea High School in 1994, I from Warwick's Pilgrim High School in 1996, but he was also a member of the Providence Cobras, a track team my brother ran for during his summers in High School. The Cobras, were coached by my brother's high school coach. So I was able to place the face with the many from the Cobra's practices at Brown University. The face I remember was that of a young man, with Olympic hopes and dreams and a smile on his face. A far cry from the image reported in the papers of a man covered in blood, apparently from brutally murdering his wife, who would take his own life. A part of me can not fathom it, another part is not surprised because in a fallen world we should not be surprised at the evil that fills it.

There is a part of me that finds it difficult to understand such behavior and to understand how a husband could kill his wife. I don't understand how any man could even raise a hand in anger to his wife, though I can recall my father doing such before my folks were divorced when I was 3 (I don't think my family thinks I remember such stuff, but some things are retained even at such a young age). There is a part of me that wonders how people can forgive such behavior, not condone it but truly forgive. Forgiveness is probably the most difficult thing to do, not only to forgive but to forget and move on. Yet, we must forgive. We have such a great example in Christ who even while being crucified prayed for those who put him to death to be forgiven for they knew not what they did. It is through our faith in Chirst that our sins are forgiven and God's mercy and grace are placed upon us, when we truly deserve God's justice for all the sins we have committed. God's mercy and grace are infinite, a thought which when dwelled upon is great and humbling. I can only pray that Robert's wife had faith in Christ, even as she was experiencing a horrible death. I also pray that Robert had faith in Christ and in his last moments repented for what he had done. It is said that if we truly knew who we'd see in heaven, we'd be surprised at the faces we'd see and at the one's we didn't. I pray that when I reach that far off shore, I may see the Howard's and see Robert's young smiling face before the darkness came upon him.
Not everyone may get similar thoughts out of such news, but this one just hit me in this fashion. Out of the unexpected things in life, out of darkness, we can all find reminders, or rather lessons, of the ever abounding grace and mercy of our Lord.

Till Next Time, Grace & Peace,


p.s. Welcome home Amanda! Thanks for the wafers!

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