This is a break from our Religious Narcia series, but it will continue later in the week.
Each of our lives are a story we are living out every day. I believe the goal for all ACONs is to not only survive, but to thrive so here is the story of a girl who thrived.
Ashley Wood Picco’s short life of 30 years was marked by serving others. As a young woman, she went to New York in 2002 to help with cleanup efforts after 911. She finished her mission and met a young musician Chris Picco who was from Canada and fell in love.
Even though it would be a few years before they married, they would eventually be married for seven years, have a dog and thrive in community with other young adults. Ashley wanted to be a nurse so she worked hard to get through school and eventually became one. One of her biggest dreams was to become a mother.
As I listened to the stories about Ashley’s life, I heard how she lived a life of empathy for other people–as a teacher of little ones, as a nurse, as a mentor and friend to other young women. I was reminded how God created us to thrive and live in community with other people.
One of Ashley’s favorite sayings was, “Make smart choices” and it seems one of the smartest choices Ashley made was loving God and loving people. Some of us ACONs who have experienced too many Thanksgiving dinners without love, might find it incredible that Ashley embraced both Canadian and American Thanksgiving. She obviously celebrated the life she’d been given.
Ashley was six months pregnant when she died. According to the youtube video, she died in her sleep and the reason is still pending. Her child was delivered by an emergency c-section and he lived for several days, but died in his father’s arms. The YouTube of Chris singing Blackbird to his baby boy, Lennon went viral.
From either a Christian or non-Christian perspective, the deaths of two precious and innocent people leaving a husband and father to grieve alone seems like a horrible mistake. It feels like God dropped the ball. Even though I didn’t know them, I stopped when I heard the news and wept. I had to ask God where He was when this tragedy happened.
Many people are probably still asking how could this ever be God’s will? And we assume it was God’s will because God did not stop it. But perhaps God’s will was not carried out. Jesus said to pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is one of those times when it feels like God’s enemy has won –until I heard Chris Picco singing at the end of the memorial service where he sang my favorite hymn, “This is My Father’s World.”
Chris Picco testifies:
“I know that God did not compose this, God had nothing to do with this, but I can see Him, tears streaming down his face, beginning to compose one note at a time the most beautiful melody that anyone has ever heard. And I don’t know what that sounds like, but that’s the God that I believe in.” -Chris Picco
You might not have time to watch the memorial of a person you’ve never met. I almost didn’t, but I am so glad I did. I am more grateful for the dirty dishes I washed this morning and the sunlight filtering through the last of the Autumn leaves outside my window. Despite all the pain in our own lives, we all have hope for eternity and we too can sing with Chris Picco:
“This is my Father’s World,
Oh let me ne’er forget–
that though the wrong
seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
“This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done–
Jesus who died
Shall be satisfied.
And Earth and heaven be one.”
Thank you Chris Picco for shining through the darkest days of your life. May God continue to fill you with peace.