The word terminal can either be used as an adjective or more frequently as a noun.
Most of the time when I am using the word terminal it is associated with making a journey…taking a trip…going on vacation.
I usually use it as a noun, but I was reflecting today on how in our English language we came to use this same word “terminal” in a very different context. How did we decide to use “terminal” to mean end of life…eminent death? The dictionary says “terminal” is of or relating to an end, extremity, or boundary. The dictionary continues…leading ultimately to death…being in the final stages…extreme or hopelessly severe.
I am accompanying my dearest friend on this “terminal” journey. I also am thinking about the place where this terminal awaits. This terminal is in the desert. We are not willingly or joyfully making this journey. It just is a journey we must take together. This desert journey is hot, dry and we are often choked by the dust.
We reluctantly began this journey carrying our luggage. Don’t you need luggage for a journey? Little by little I am leaving my luggage to help her carry her luggage. Occasionally we visit about whether or not we still need to carry a certain piece of luggage. Sometimes we realize a bag is no longer necessary or we are just too exhausted to drag it along anymore.
Jesus said, “…take nothing for the journey…” he knew we would not need to carry things.
You can get tired of dragging luggage even if it has wheels. Wheels are not too useful when one is walking in the desert sand.
It is so difficult to walk in this desert.
Other friends and family members are in the desert with us. Not much is spoken because they are also struggling with the heat and desolation. We walk together yet we walk alone. The desert hills shift and swirl around us. We are often blinded by the blowing sand, our lips are parched, but we slowly keep walking.
Where is this terminal? Is it just there on the horizon? It seems near yet illusive.
At times I think I see the terminal, but it is just a glimpse. I fear that one day when I am not vigilant I will look up and we will have arrived at “the desert terminal”.
Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are thirsty…weary…”
Is this terminal our final destination? No.
This terminal is where we must part and go in our separate directions. At this terminal I can only walk with her to the gate and bless her. …walk her to the gate… That vision is painful I must admit…letting her go through the gate. But go she must. She will go on to her final destination, an oasis. The living waters will refresh and revive her. She will see the true light of the glory of everything we believe about God. She will live in eternal joy.
What happens after her plane leaves this earthly ground? I will still be standing there in the desert. I will be looking for a glimpse of her for a while…a sign of comfort that “all will be well”.
I cannot stay there in the “desert terminal”. It will not be allowed. I must make my way back out of the desert. The Old Testament is filled with desert stories. God does provide his “manna” even in the desert.
I am weary thinking about the trip back across the desert. Will I be able to make the way out of the desert even though I am tired? Will I be able to find the footprints we left in the sand? I cannot bear to let myself think about that today. I am not yet ready. The time will come, but not today.
One thing I know this “desert terminal” only has departing flights, how unusual, a terminal with only departing flights.
We, her family and friends, must make the journey out of the desert no matter how long it may take.