When a life-splintering phone call stops the world and drains the sky of all its light, how can comforting words be anything but confabulation, anything but fantasy and illusion?
In Led into Mystery, John W. de Gruchy addresses this question from the standpoint of his own grief as well as his theological sophistication. A South African well known for Bonhoeffer scholarship and for work on restorative justice and Christian humanism, de Gruchy reveals that his eldest son, Steve, himself a husband, father, and theologian, “tragically died in a river accident” early in 2010. The father writes that on first seeing where his son’s still unrecovered body had disappeared beneath the water, he was “inconsolable. I do not know how long I sat there and wept.”
The story is wrenching. Any heart—not least a pastor’s—quakes to hear it. And it tosses up, besides our sympathy, a cloud of anxiety and doubt. Such a loss could put anyone on the doorstep of despair.