We nearly woke up in time for church, but we didn’t. I nearly yelled at him, but somehow managed not to. I’m nearly ready to go back to work, but not quite.

Nearly. Almost to the point, but falling or stopping just short of it. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s not. I nearly made it in time for my flight connection, but the plane had left the gate. I nearly hit that car when I hydroplaned, but just missed it at the last.

I’ve been getting stuck on words lately. Finding some strange attention needed on words I’ve known all my life and never before pondered so thoughtfully. Last week the word was ‘ever’. This week I’m considering ‘nearly’ though I’ve just made up my mind to think about ‘near’ instead.

The gospels are thick with references to how “heaven has come near”, “the kingdom of God is near” or the “Lord is near”. Near, close by but not here. Near, just over there. Near, just beyond my reach. Near, so close I can almost taste it, feel it, see it, but not quite. Like the unity of the church, it is the “not yet” for which we strive, sometimes with great movement forward, sometimes with painful slippage backward. It is near, but just beyond our attainment.

Near is also for those we hold close but cannot possess. We want our families near, and our pets too. We can be so close to someone, but because we can’t get inside and be them, we can only be near to them. We usually say near and dear to express that degree of affection.

I searched the Bible (thanks to!) to find a verse that expresses my grasp of the ‘nearness’ I feel towards God. I should have known it would come from the Psalms, that storekeeper of emotions.

But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
to tell of all your works. ~  Psalm 73:28

As I have journeyed recently, through loss and illness, it is this snippet that best describes how I feel about God. Last summer, while I was in radiation treatment, a friend and mentor asked about my relationship with God; was I angry? My answer was ‘no.’ I’m not angry at God because I know in my heart of hearts that God didn’t do this (the job loss and illness) to me. God doesn’t make the bad things happen, but I do believe that God uses our struggles and challenges first to teach us, if we are willing to learn; and then to help us and sometimes help us to help others. God made us to be in relationship with each other, in community. To me that means we should help carry each other and then share what we have learned both through our triumphs and our trials. Let us be near to one another so that, through our caring and love, we may also be dear to one another.

Thanks to Sunday Scribblings for the inspiration for this post!

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4 Responses to Nearly

  1. Lisa says:

    What an amazing take on nearly. Such a positive twist to the word – all the things that nearly did NOT happen. Very much enjoyed this piece.

  2. Meryl Jaffe says:

    Nice take on nearly, and a strong lesson on the power of words. My mom would tell me to chose them carefully because once out, you can’t take them back!

  3. Sara Kemp says:

    This was lovely. Lovely writing, and a lovely sentiment. Thank you.

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