On the World Race when squads leave one country to go to the next, Racer blogs begin to talk about the goodbyes. The struggle to release those they have bonded with is difficult. To open your heart and connect, only to have to walk away seems harsh and too hard. The temptation to protect your heart the next time is nearly universal. It would be easier to practice pain avoidance, harden yourself, and hold back. Many blogs talk about tears shed when last hugs were given by orphans or ministry hosts who have become like family. It is often stated that a part of their heart stays in each country as they work their way around the world, and that home can no longer be one place, but many. It is as if their hearts are being broken into pieces and scattered.
This past year, I have often thought of Anastasia Sloan and her family. (I wrote a blog that included some of her story here… https://michellesmosaic.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/full-circle/.) She was killed in a car accident just weeks before launching to go on the World Race. It occurred to me today that her life provided a visual picture of a spiritual journey that happens in the hearts of Racers everywhere. At the request of her family, her ashes were transported with her squad. These Racers stood in each of the 11 countries and scattered her ashes, leaving a part of her to remain in-country, just as they each left a part of their hearts there. They were bonded through their good-byes.
The scattering of hearts (or ashes) is much deeper than what appears on the surface. It is more than tears of goodbye, though those are important to shed. Beyond the pain of grief, it is a planting…a sewing… of seeds. Seeds that will grow because of the testimony they represent, and the faithfulness of the farmer who scatters them. Seeds whose shells will crack open so that life can take root. Seeds that plunge into the soil and hold it so that it will not erode away. Seeds that dig down, because they know the secret of multiplication is a foundation of depth. The way to growth is through a seed falling to the ground.
My heart cannot fathom what the Sloan’s have been through. I am amazed by the strength they have carried this year. I am inspired by their desire to fulfill Anastasia’s wish to go to the nations. They exemplify what letting go means, and in their heartache they have showed us how to walk it out in a way that is much, much bigger than our idea of what it is to open our hands.
This video is short, but it speaks volumes. I have watched it several times to see the exuberance of Anastasia. Her passion for life illuminates her face, and her smile lights up my screen. I cry every time. Every. Time. I do not pretend to understand the whys of her tragic death. I have found why to be a question that has no answer. Such a beautiful soul, gone too soon. There are no explanations. Yet, she planted so much seed….in the hearts of everyone, everywhere who heard her story. Because of her powerful story, I feel as if I knew her even though we never met. God’s grace is scattering the seeds… which will reap a harvest of great magnitude…all because of Anastasia.