I find myself liking the word juxtapose as of late. It rolls off my tongue and when I checked the meaning, it turns out that the word Juxtapose is from the 1660s term coined in French from juxta meaning “beside, near” and posed meaning “position.” More than just being close to, it means that you are positioned in a way for reason of comparison.
This word came to mind in a discussion about some of life’s most challenging experiences. For some varied reasons, life has been recently difficult for several of my coworkers. An administrator’s wife is finishing an intense chemotherapy treatment, a teacher’s husband has been diagnosed with cancer and simultaneously fighting for his life, another teacher just lost his father, one lost her mother, another is having some scary medical tests, someone is enduring family divisions over a sibling’s misconduct, and someone else is on the brink of a failed adoption…..and these are just the lives that I know about. Yet, every day, they walk through our front door with a smile, a wave and a determination to do their job. Sometimes there may be a tear or worried glance, but without fail, they pour themselves into others as they educate and protect the students of our school. Most days, you would only ever know that their life was complicated and painful if they slowed down long enough for you to catch a glimpse of the sadness in their eyes.
The human experience – tragic, really. Life is mired in loss and pain. God offers the miracle of grace, a refuge to turn to if we choose, and a community in which to share love and encourage others. It is impossible to compare our sorrows in juxtaposition, even if going through a similar situations because every experience is individual. The human spirit, however, is the love and hope behind the tragedy. The juxtaposition of the human spirit contrasted against life’s difficulties……is where the beauty lies. Strength, courage, love, humor, grace, determination, kindness, joy, hope….shown every day, in the face of sorrow, fear, and hurt. I hope they know the example they set as educators and as people. I am more than happy to line up with them, juxtaposed or otherwise.