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I walked through the sunlight, shielded only by the white lace of clouds quite fitting for a wedding day, aware of its heat soothing my winter-parched skin due partly to the midwest bitter cold but also to a disease hidden from the eye like a well-kept secret. The Light drawing out my impurity.

A hungry babe alone in a crib, a toddler in need of sleep, a teen broken by divorce, a graduate fearing life’s next step, a new husband shaken with responsibility, an unemployed father, a recovering mother, a widow wounded, all, too, have holes like mine that leak out life. We are never alone with our pain, but too often our joy.

The wind was high as though the air was mimicking the exhilaration of the bride and groom. We could feel both as we closed the rented car doors and zipped up our jackets—my brother, his wife, and me. I know this because our laughter was rich and deep—the past weeks of work and stress had been abandoned on the other side of our flights.

We had paused for a picture in front of a cactus when suddenly I saw pain shoot across my brother’s face. Drawing up his pant leg revealed seven deep puncture wounds dripping with blood. He’s on blood thinner.

As I bent down to dab, pulling a tissue from my purse, years of family history flashed before me. He had survived a pulmonary embolism and a brain aneurism. He had written a book called, How God Kicked My Bipolar Butt. He knows struggle.

He hasn’t had a fair shake of empathy from me over the years. We sometimes don’t see eye to eye, but his surgeries were followed by our father’s, and then the death of our brother, both mixed in between our mother’s cancer, followed by our parents’ passing, and sister’s illness. He pushed on, determined to earn a living and be a good husband.

I dabbed at the seven wounds, struck by my emotion. Love isn’t a switch we turn on and off, but like running water between the banks of dry and thirsty land, sometimes clear, other times murky. It may become shallow for stretches, or turbulent, or roll with waves in the wind. Water emulates our ever-shifting emotions. But the river runs deep and keeps flowing. So too, our love.

The Creator, the Great Lover of all, looks down on us, his creations, with empathy as He sees the holes, the punctures —our wounding—knowing, that it’s there the Light of His Love shines through the brightest.

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