Steve is the head chef at our house and I am always pleased to serve as his sous chef. In that capacity, one of my main duties is to shred. I shred cucumbers and cheese. I grate lemon rind and ginger. Whatever needs to be moved up and down that four-sided, multi-gauged tin instrument, I do it.

You take that block of cheese, hard or soft, it doesn’t matter, and in a couple of minutes you have rendered it into a pile of shreds. You can’t put it back together. Same thing with a lemon. Use the smaller gauge on the shredder and once you have moved that bright yellow lemon up and down and up and down, you’ve changed its appearance and it will never be the beautiful Sunkist fruit anymore. It’s just an odd-looking piece of citrus with no skin, except that white pulpy stuff. Then you squeeze the juice out for something else and all that’s left is the shredded, hanging pulp of the fruit. There is just nothing left to it.

Yesterday I wrote about how my brothers and sisters and I are finding comfort in the midst of our pursuit of justice for our baby sister Cathy. And I do believe that not only have we found comfort, but comfort has found us. That is what I said. I still hold on to it and am grateful for the gift it is.

But today, we aren’t in control of the grater. We are the ones grated into a pile of shreds. We are the lemon that has not only had its skin shredded off slowly, but the juice has been squeezed out too. Right now I feel like the substance-less pulp of the sunny yellow lemon that is no more.

Our wait will be longer. Word came to us today that the man who murdered and raped and tortured our little sister Cathy is not competent to stand trial for the crime. He won’t even have a hearing to state that he is incompetent. As far as we understand – and it is so hard to comprehend! – he will simply be declared incompetent and moved to a facility to rehabilitate him…for what we do not know. For a trial eventually? That’s our hope and our desire, but we don’t know if that is what will happen. He has been down this road before. After being rehabilitated, he was released as someone considered “not dangerous” to society. And that is how he crossed paths with Cathy, shredding the life out of her.

Here is how we read about it in the Press Enterprise of Riverside County, California, in March, 2013:

This is what we have been living with for the past eighteen months, every day another day of waiting for justice. Every day another day of seeking and finding comfort. And some days, like today, we feel like we have been moved up and down and up and down over the sharp edges of a grater. It feels like being a pile of something that was once a person, but today is just pieces. And the shredding hurts. And we feel helpless to do anything. Even if there is something we can do, we don’t know what it is.

But I got a great hug from my pastor today. That felt like a healing balm where healing is hard to come by. Rich came into my life and the life of my church last July, 2013, as our interim. He has been with me and Jana through most of the stages of this crime and aftermath. He will be moving along soon as we call a permanent pastor and hopefully we will be able to carry on our journey with this new shepherd. I hope he gives as good of a hug as Rich does! But those hugs really do help pull the pieces back together, making me somewhat whole and able to carry on through the day.

We are reading the book of Revelation in staff prayer these days and I just want to hurry forward to chapter 21 where I know this passage awaits me:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Vs. 3-4)

I love that image. It’s a parent pulling out the kleenex or the dishtowel and just smearing the tears out of a child’s eyes and off the face. Maybe that mom or dad just puts their hand of the side of the face and wipes them off with their thumb. The intimacy of that kind of comfort, the in-your-face embrace of it, that is how I think of God the father. Such love…

But this is my favorite part: no more death! No more crying! (That one is hard to imagine for me, but wouldn’t it be amazing?!) No more mourning or pain or shredding or wringing out of our insides. For he has wiped it all away. And we will all be there together and he will be right there with us. And there will be hugs for Cathy and for Sally and Mike and Susan and Jana and George and for me. Our shredded family will be whole, shining like the sun…or a sun-kissed lemon.

Back in one piece, from many.

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