Those of you who know music are familiar with the suspended chord. As a song nears its end, it almost always follows a chord progression that takes the song to the II minor chord, then to the V7 chord, before landing on its home base of the I major chord. Sometimes to add some spice, the songwriter will add what is called a “suspended” chord just before the song ends on the I major chord. This is accomplished by playing the fourth note of the chord against the fifth note, creating a beautiful dissonant sound. The chord “resolves” into the normal, regular I chord – the first, third, and fifth notes of the scale that form the melodic harmony that we all are accustomed to hearing.
A perfect example of this technique that you may be familiar with is the “Amen” that is often sung at the closing of a hymn. Most times, the “Ahh” part of the song is that dissonant suspended chord, with the “men” part resolving into the more typical sounding I chord.
This “dissonance” is what I felt when I came to the end of my investigation surrounding my father’s death. I was so sure I would find the last piece of my puzzle when I found the last person who spoke with my father before he disappeared. As it turns out, the new information that he gave me concerning the conversation my dad had with four German civilians just a week before his disappearance was a “curve ball” I did not expect. The revelation presented me with even more questions, for which there were no answers. On the heels of last week’s post, someone wondered why Mr. Duncan did not divulge that information in his sworn affidavit. I was so stunned by the disclosure of that new information, that I really didn’t think to ask him that during our phone conversation. However, I remember what a good friend who served in the Army in Germany during the 70’s once told me. It was his opinion that the Army’s standard operating procedure was to keep everything “in house” and not get involved in the civil arena. Even when they found my dad’s body in the city limits of Dachau, they got the medical examiner to determine that his death probably occurred on the base so they could keep all investigations within the jurisdiction of the Army and not the city of Dachau. It was possible that Mr. Duncan told them about the civilians, and they purposely omitted it from the official reports for that reason. Rather than call him back and ask for clarification, I have chosen to end my investigation and live with the dissonance.
In her book, “Gone With The Wind,” Margaret Mitchell wrote, “It is better to know the worst than to wonder.” I will have to admit that, although difficult and painful, the quest to uncover what nuggets of truth I did find about my father was one of the best things I have ever done. It is true that sometimes truth hurts, but it is even more true that the truth will definitely set you free. In music, the dissonant, suspended chord eventually resolves into that beautiful, melodic major chord. And even though the lack of unanswered questions left me with dissonance, God has transformed the dissonance into a beautiful resolve, the details, of which I look forward to sharing with you in coming posts.
For now, I will share two verses of scripture that pretty much sum up the redemptive resolve I came to embrace through all this searching and seeking to find answers about my father.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
We will be terribly misguided if we believe that our lives will be a bed of roses and devoid of heartache. Jesus Himself, told us that “in this world, you will have trouble.” But he also said, “take heart, I have overcome the world.” This life that is full of blessing will also have its share of sorrow to endure. But God, in His infinite sovereignty, is able to turn tragedy into triumph and bring an ultimate good out of the most dire of circumstances. As I look back over my life, one thing is clear….God’s blessings are undeniably and plainly clear. As traumatic as losing a father is to a family, God gave my mother tremendous grace to carry the load of raising two boys and supplied everything that we needed throughout our lives together. He has surrounded me with the best gifts anyone could ever have – the best wife in the world, two boys that are my treasures, and a new daughter-in-law that is equally as precious. God has most definitely brought an ultimate good out of our situation and has made this “dissonance” beautiful in His time.
The second verse comes later on in that same Romans chapter when Paul said, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life… neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I vividly remember the night I first read through the dossier and the range of emotions – everything from sadness to anger – that I felt in the aftermath. However, in the middle of that emotion, a very calm stillness came over me and I felt that peace that passes all understanding and escapes all explanation. The reality of the truth of this verse fully held me in its grip – that God loved me…that he had always loved me and would always love me. He also affirmed to me that my existence here was no accident…my place in His grand scheme of things was no afterthought. And while the presence of my earthly father was, for the most part, nonexistent throughout most of my life, there was no doubt in my mind that I did, indeed, have a Heavenly Father who had kept me in the grasp of his caring embrace and would continue to do so.
This was my renewal….this was my redemption….this was dissonance turning into a beautiful resolve.