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What was the attraction? Was it the sound? The jolting, shrieking, squeals or the snorting, snuffling, shameless grunts of contentment and joy? Perhaps it was the imbalance of those little eyes, big wet snout, pointing ears on a small head; the short, stubby legs and the huge, rotund body all set off with the incongruity of that festive, curling-ribbon of a tail? What was God thinking anyway, to adorn an animal that wallows in the mud with such a flourish as that tail, like each was a gift to be opened. A very stinky present indeed!
Or maybe it was the “p” sound my brother always found so funny. ”Pig”, “pork”, “pee-yew”! Was it some divine joy in an animal that was so unabashedly, unashamedly just what God had created it to be? A filthy animal no longer “unclean”? Just like us: born-again and new?
I believe my brother, Scottie, often had a better grasp of God than I will ever be capable of getting. ”Come as a little child” . . . “a little child” . . . “a little child”. He was God’s perennial child: his mental retardation and damaged heart, blessing and cross. God’s gift to show me I need to stop trying to make life more complicated than it is. A cross he bore as he suffered in pain so bravely.
Whatever the attraction, Scottie loved pigs! LOVED THEM! He bubbled over and laughed out loud at the thought of them. Joyous laughter I can still hear even though it has been 10 years ago today since my brother went to be with his Jesus.
Maybe Scott knew that our life on earth is like the prodigal son eating pig‘s scraps–and we are only passing through this life on our way to an eternal party with our Father. Nobody loved a party more than Scott. Nobody kept a holiday better than him. Maybe he knew they were just preludes to heaven.
What possessed him that day in K-mart in Cranberry, Pennslyvania, when he grabbed that pig cookie jar off the shelf? Walking him back to my mom from the restroom. I had never seen him take off like that: his stiff leg swinging out as fast as he could move; laughing, running, looking over his shoulder with an ear-to-ear grin as I raced to catch up with him. Then his satisfied smile as he reached our mother first and deposited his prize in her buggy, both of us panting; my mom looking at us like we were crazy. It was the only thing Scott had ever picked out in a store. Little did we know we were witinessing the beginning of a life-long love affair! For all we knew Scottie was hungry and wanted cookies! But his pleasure in pigs never died as his personal pig collection grew over the years. My brother even chose to leave us in the Chinese year of–you guessed it–the boar!
If you ever wondered why my family is crazy about pigs, now you know. We werer taught to appreciate their finer points by our best teacher. Not even 28 years on this earth, yet–like the short life of another great man Scottie adored, his Jesus–they both left behind eternal truths I am still pondering, even years now since they’ve been gone.
I need to measure Scott’s life, not by how many years, but by how much he gave and taught to everyone. I thank God for him as I remember him today. What a priceless, precious treasure he still is to me! Ever time I see a pig I am filled with bittersweet joy. And some day I’ll know just why he loved pigs so much. Up there in heaven: me and Jesus and Scottie . . . and the pigs. You don’t think there’ll be pigs in heaven? Better think again! Remember, with God, all things are possible. Maybe my brother, Scottie, was really laughing at a private joke with God: maybe he knew the joke would be on the rest of us when we see pigs fly!
I wrote the above article 7 years ago. A lot has changed since then. Many of my family, friends, loved ones, even two of my babies, have joined my brother. I am raising my two daughters by myself, something I never would have expected. My lighthouse, my mother, has gone to spend her days with her beloved son. My touchstone, my best friend, Ed, has crossed over too. So many lives have gone beyond the reach of my earthly arms. And yet, they are more present with me today than ever. I carry their memories, their spirits, their life-lessons with me at all times. In their passing, they etched themselves indelibly on my soul and heart and have become a part of me. Part of this realization is maturing spiritually enough to grasp that all creation is one: one breathing, living celebration of the creative genius of God. If you don’t believe as I do, that is fine. But watch out. I am not just talking spirituality anymore. Quantum physics has begun to prove ancient spiritual laws. The next few decades of science should be quite an adventurous trip!
So, what does it change to believe we all are one? I am, at long last, able to stop grieving and start celebrating. The joy and love that was given to me is not gone. I touch it, feel it every day now. The joy of each life is multiplied in my present; no longer lost in my past. Whether someone is in this life or the next, in God I can still reach them. And with the passage of time, I see the completeness of their life-cycle, the perfectness of God’s timing. Their lives which seemed to end too soon are still living in me. Their full life still is teaching me, guiding me, giving me wisdom. I just have to open myself to it. Each life has become a book of scripture to me. A living, breathing, evolving volume of eternal wisdom and treasure to be mined bit by bit. I pick away at the rock day by day, never knowing what jewel will turn up. I sense their presence when I am feeling alone. I see their faces, hear their voices, feel their touch, their energy, revel in both the laughter and the tears. Through them, I touch God. And life is not a path of despair. Life is sweeter. Precious. Expanding into unlimited possibilities. Death is no longer the enemy, the thief, the finality. It is a doorway to change and choices and new beginnings. It is just another step in eternal existence. Our chance to see the unknown. To solve all the mysteries. To know all the great secrets. Now I am not saying I want to rush forward to embrace it. I am just starting to “get it” where I am. But I am no longer afraid. I am no longer afraid. Consider that statement to have been shouted from the rooftops of my soul.
And special thanks to Scottie, who dropped the article, “When Pigs Fly“, from its frame today, where it has been hanging for the past seven years. Just a coincidence? Seven years to the day? Sure it was. When pigs fly.