updated 9:30 am 5/22/08
I will always remember the night I was driving home from a high school drama competition and the booming voice of radio personality John Rivers somberly came on the air to announce that Rich Mullins, a prolific writer, artist, lover, ragamuffin, humble, dark, deep and penetrating artist and a secret friend to the souls of so many of us, had died in a tragic car wreck.
I never knew him. I never even saw him in concert. But he was a dear part of my family, of my journey, and of my soul as his music, thoughts, and lyrics had deeply penetrated and changed the landscape of the way I viewed Jesus. Rich was my tour guide to Christ. He took me to Him. We walked to Jesus together.
I pulled my car over and listened to the radio reports. I cried for an hour (and missed curfew). My heart broke in a way you would think impossible for someone I had never met. But the truth is, we had met...because he profoundly shaped my soul, we met somewhere in the spiritual world, and he was my friend.
Today I mourn another such tragic loss and I find words very hard to come by.
Several weeks ago I told you about how I got to meet Stephen Curtis Chapman, my lifelong hero, at GMA week. How kind he was and how he understood the importance of his legacy to me, because he followed legacies of his own. He let me know this was OK because God gives us mentors, and uses music and words to profoundly shape our hearts and lives. He said other people had shaped his life. He had shaped my life. And now I would shape other people's lives. It was a special moment to be able to share with him. Besides Rich, there has never been a person or family that has inspired me to do what I do more than Stephen and Mary Beth Chapman...their music, their family, their honesty, their beauty. I barely know them and yet today I mourn for them deeply. My heart is broken tonight.
Stephen's beautiful daughter Maria, age 5, died today in a tragic accident.
One of the older sons did not see her playing in the driveway and she was hit by his car, care flighted to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, TN and passed away there in the hospital. She was the youngest of Stephen and Mary Beth's six children and was adopted from China.
I have already begun to read comments on people's blogs and myspace accounts and I am baffled at the inappropriate things we say when people are hurting. Not intentionally, we just don't know how to offer our hearts sorrow to them and we don't know what to say. At a time like this...exclamation marks at the end of sentences and telling a stranger within hours of mourning that God has a plan for this tragedy seems to fall short. All I can say is that I do not know what to say. I cannot understand and my heart is broken and all I can do is pray for the peace and comfort of Christ to hold Stephen and his family tightly. And maybe that is no better than exclamation marks.
Then again, maybe I don't say anything. Maybe we just fall to your knees and pray. And then pray more for this precious, grieving family.
I marvel at how quickly the Christian community and the Nashville family of musicians comes together to shower love, prayer, and the strength of family onto those in our family who suffer such immense loses. It is beautiful to watch. It has only been a few hours now and blogs, news articles, and prayer chains have already begun to fill the pages of the Internet (and that is from those of us who do not journey with this family day in and day out. We know that those closest to them are literally holding them together in these moments). The body of Christ in action. Love, mourning, hope, and friendship in the midst of utter, gut wrenching, can't take another breath tragedy....the kind that I cannot even begin to understand...surrounds them right now.
And we too lift these members of our family, shapers of our journey, up and pray that God would be present in the way only He knows how to be present.
For more information on the family and ways you can donate to their BEAUTIFUL organization that is literally changing the lives for thousands of orphans all over the world, visit Shaohannah's Hope.
Also, StevenCurtisChapman.com is keeping everyone updated. Thank you for praying for this family who is life giving to so many of us.