Searching for Hidden Grace

photo courtesy of @brennadillon on VSCO

What a week.  I don’t have many words to describe it.  Actually, I don’t have any at all to even try too.  Emotional for sure, but I think there is more hidden beneath the surface level of things.  Things that in a sense we might be blind to at the moment but are still there…

Driving home from school on Tuesday was just as normal as it always is.  Matthew and I were on K-10 on the way home. There were cars passing by at crazy fast speeds, swerving in and out of lanes to get around upcoming traffic, per usual sadly.  I took a look out the window, and then I noticed no traffic going westbound. And at this time of day, plus all the roadwork they are doing on that side, I was surprised. Where were all the cars I wondered?  

Then I saw medical personnel.  Then I saw lights. Then I saw the semi with the bottom left corner missing.  Then I saw the crushed vehicle.

As traffic started to form on our side on the highway, I watched out the window at the people on the other side.  I could not really tell what was happening, but I knew a car had smashed into the semi. Well at least that’s what I assumed happened… we kept driving and I didn’t think anything of what we had seen except for those few minutes.  That is something really unlike me to do. {I am the type of person who freaks out when they hear or see anything about an accident, especially when it’s in an area close to home or where people I know live. But this time I didn’t freak out at all}  When I got back home, I just so happened to get on KSHB because I was bored not really sure what moved me to do so. There was something on there about the accident I had seen earlier; so of course, I read the article and it mentioned that it was deadly.  

But again, I didn’t think much of it.  

The night went on as it always does.  I was up in my room finishing up some stuff for the next day at school and texting one of my good friends.  And then she broke the news to me of the tragic accident I hadn’t thought much of earlier. The one thing I have always feared the most, having someone I have encountered in my life pass away, had happened.

I cannot say that I really “knew” Dylan because I didn’t.  I didn’t know him as well as many others do. I don’t know what his favorite color was or what his favorite thing to do on a Friday night was, but what I was aware of was the way he treated those he faced on a daily basis.  I was aware of who Dylan was because I too have been impacted by him as a camper at Camp Tekakwitha. Dylan was one of the brightest witnesses to Christ I have ever seen. And this past summer he really stood out to me. To me, he was the guy with the smiling face, overflowing with a deep love for what he was doing in his life, but I know there was so much more to that man.  So much more than what I could see. I didn’t know his heart, but I was profoundly impacted by him. All the stories I have heard over the past few days are just another testament to the joy and peace he brought into so many people’s lives. I am not sure if I ever got a chance to talk to him except for small side conversations on the lake or something like that, but man, from what I experienced just from simply being around Dylan, he truly had a gift to reach people.  He always brought high energy to each activity and along with that a constant joy. And this joy was so evident. When you were around Dylan, he impacted you. I mean just his energy alone was enough to make you feel so loved and welcomed. Through everything I have heard and read over the past days, everything has been about his contagious smile, hilarious jokes, but more than that his faith. From what I experienced being around him, I could see what a man of great faith he was, and as others have attested to that fact, we are consoled.  His gracious heart giving up his orange to a person in need while in Italy and through his down to earth mindset built in truth, he was a witness to many. Again, I didn’t know Dylan as well as many of my friends, but his presence was enough to impact you, as he did me.

The past 5 days have truly been such a rollercoaster of emotions.  I don’t even know what to do. I literally have done nothing for finals yet… pushing everything back.  My heart is just aching and confused. I just don’t understand and we never will. God does things we simply don’t understand.  And I have to say that I haven’t exactly been walking with God over the past few weeks. I kind of blew everything off as Lent was coming to a close and haven’t picked it back up at all.  I just haven’t had any desire, but the thing is that He has. And through this, I have seen Him working despite what I am feeling…

On Tuesday night making my way over to adoration, the clouds were unlike anything I had ever seen.  The only way to describe it is Pride Rock from The Lion King.  The right side of my view of the sky looked exactly like that fictional place.  The clouds were a mixture of warm colors as the sun was setting, but to the left, the sun was setting.  Its radiant rays were shining its way through a nearby cloud. It definitely looked as if the Heavens were opening up.  And sure there are moments when people see such events like this in the sky, but I have never seen anything like this. It was something I could be surer of.  

Arriving at the chapel, and sitting in the pews with all these people Dylan had touched with his heart, I just felt so overwhelmed with something I can’t describe.  Sitting in the silence simply trying to pray and get something to come to my mind was hard. I didn’t know what to say and I don’t really remember if I ever did say anything.  I just didn’t believe it was real. I still don’t. But with all those people there, I could see the community coming together. And through this tragedy, the community continues to become stronger.  On Wednesday we had a morning rosary and mass, and everyone came together despite the pain. Though we don’t have the right words to say or the solution to the pain, we can simply be there for each other.  So many out there are really struggling with this. Hearts are broken and in need of healing. Though the last thing many want to do is go to Jesus for this because we wonder why? Why now? Why him? We will never know but He does.  And it is so hard for us to trust in that. Obviously, God sent Dylan to fulfill a specific mission here on Earth, and His plan for Him now is to come to be with Him. No that makes no sense to me because we are all confused and grieving souls but we are reminded that our home isn’t here.  Our home is in Heaven and now Dylan is there. He is home.

I was talking to several of my friends on Thursday about this and I realized something big in a backward circle.  My friend brought up the fact that the theme for camp this year is, “The Way of a Saint: Prayer, Care, Share.” That is not a coincidence my friends.  There is no doubt in my mind that Dylan is in Heaven right now, and if he isn’t now then he will be very, very soon. Being there makes him a saint. Though he would not be canonized at the moment, he will be a saint.  A saint. This summer’s theme of diving into the truth, beauty, and goodness of striving for sainthood was not something that someone just thought of on the fly because it was the divine incarnate. He put it on the specific person’s tongue because he knew of this situation before it would happen.  I truly believe that this theme could not suit the time better. Not only are we given the chance to grow together focusing on sainthood this summer, but to honor our brother in Christ, Dylan who we know will reach sainthood if he hasn’t already. This is just another beautiful opportunity we have to honor him and all the lives he touched in his life.  Following that, I was reminded that the night before any of this occurred, I sent out a text on this group chat of people:

“God has really been proving this to me over the past week that EVERYTHING happens for a reason.  Though in a specific moment or time it may be really hard to understand, there is a reason behind it part of a plan so much bigger.  So anything that you are going through you do not understand or feel lost in, just know there is a reason behind it. There always is, and God is going to use that situation or moment to bring about a greater good.  Sometimes it is super hard to figure out why and it may take our whole lives and we never know, but He always stays constant. He wants us to run to Him and truly He pours out such great abundances in our lives. All we have to do is ask.”

After I sent that, I honestly had no idea why I even typed it out.  It had kind of been on my mind most of the day but I wasn’t sure why.  Now I believe I have a better insight as to why that may have been the case.  As I said that I have always had a hard time believing it, but I have seen good come out of bad many times.  And this time I am really seeing the beauty and goodness despite aching hearts. God has really brought together so many people through this tragedy and is still continuing to do so.  He has been reminding us that even in great pain we can experience healing. Though a part of our hearts are currently broken we know they can be healed, but we are lost. We are hurting, suffering, and questioning so much.  We cannot understand because our minds don’t allow but deep down we are searching. Even though our hearts are aching, we know there is a hidden grace. A grace you are revealing to us as we draw closer as a community. A grace you are revealing to us as we come to you.  A grace you are revealing in our hurt and confusion. Though right now we may be blind to the graces you are pouring down through this tragedy, we know they are there. We know you are working.

If it is your will, please bring peace and heal our broken hearts.  Draw us closer together as we come to honor your faithful servant, Dylan.  There is no right thing to do or say now, but to come to you. Even though we are suffering and may be frustrated with you, unite us to your open heart. More than anytime we need you, Lord. Take us deeper and draw us closer.

One response to “Searching for Hidden Grace”

  1. Clarita Culpepper Avatar
    Clarita Culpepper

    Dylan must have been a remarkable young man to touch so many hearts.

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