"We know not the day nor the hour."
The sobering words of Jesus Christ came tragically home to a family visiting Bay Roberts last week.
Their eldest son - he was only 11 year old - was taken suddenly from his loving parents and siblings when he succumbed to injuries from a fall over a high, vertical cliff on the north side of the harbour in the east end of the town.
The boy and his family had no way of knowing that one minute he would be enjoying Newfoundland's great outdoors - playing innocently in a grassy meadow, unaware of the dangers that lurked beneath his feet. And the next, gone forever, after wandering precariously too close to the edge of a steep (vertical) cliff. Unaware the ground, described as "a bit unstable" was all that separated him from a straight drop to the rocks about 30 metres below.
Tragically, Christopher Davis was not the first to have lost his life to the dangers that lurk around our rugged coastline, and equally tragically, he will not be the last.
It's a shoreline that can be wildly beautiful, and at the same time, terribly unmerciful. Or as a poet may describe it, "a terrible beauty."
Besides the words of Christ, there is another old saying this unspeakable tragedy brings to mind:
It is only natural that children should bury their parents, but "no parent should have to bury their child."
Indeed, perhaps only those of you who have done so can begin to comprehend the excruciating heartache the Davis Family has had to endure since the tragic loss of their precious son.
Such wounds to the hearts of the grieving are so deep, only time can even begin to heal them.
While none of us can feel such pain as intensely as those closest to loved ones lost, such tragedies touch all of us who write about them, and all of you who read about them or hear about them on the news.
The grief and the pain that visits families at such times is like a contagion that reaches out to the wider community as we sympathize with the grief stricken and struggle so hopelessly to find words that don't exist.
In this case the wider community includes Colinet, where the boy's family roots run deep; Cambridge, Ontario, the family's adopted home and the Bay Roberts area, where the tragedy unfolded.
The high esteem in which young Christopher was held by all those he touched in his 11 years with them was expressed in the numerous thoughtful condolences left on the website of Dunphy's Funeral Home in Holyrood, which handled his funeral arrangements.
One described him as, "a sweet boy with an infectious smile and he will be dearly missed."
Another remembered him as "a wonderful child whose memory will be held in the hearts of all who knew him.
"A finer young man there could not be.
The SJK (St. John's Kilmarnock) has lost a beautiful son," read another.
"One had fond memories of sitting beside Christopher in chapel just so that I could hear his beautiful singing voice." This writer also spoke of Christopher's "love of reading, gift for writing and desire to engage in thought-provoking conversations."
His love of reading was echoed by many, one describing it as his "voracious appetite for books.
"He was so full of life and fun to be around," another said.
"This young fellow was full of spirit and a real force in life," another observed.
But perhaps the most profound comment came from Christopher's best friend. "You were my best friend and have now passed away. I will miss you because we had so much fun together. I am very sad, but you will always be my best friend."
For those who did not know Christopher Davis or his family personally, you get the sense from the above insights from those who did that here was a young man full of intelligence, talent, thirst for knowledge, zest for life and promise. A young man with a record of accomplishment already beyond his tender years.
Our hope is that Christopher's family can find some solace in the knowledge that their son was held in such high regard by so many - he has left his footprints on the sands of time.
We should also remember them in our thoughts and prayers as they continue to bear the burden of such a profound loss.