Posts Tagged ‘Tragedy’

How do we love God?

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Loving God, at one level is incredibly esoteric. “Wu Wu” stuff as my friend would say.  How do we love something that often appears to our dim human eyes distant, disembodied, contentious even?

Emanuel Swedenborg offered this:

Loving God “does not mean loving God for the image he projects but loving the good that comes from him.  Loving the good is intending and doing it.” (Heaven and Hell, 15)

Restated, there are these good things that come from God – the good stuff – the good stuff often even in the midst of the hard stuff.  God’s love made real into the world. Seen, heard, witnessed, experienced, shared.

Our job – to love God.  Which means placing our intention behind that good stuff and DOING IT.

In ways hard to describe that aligns our best intentions with God’s loving intentions.  Or more accurately, it uncovers in our soul those loving intentions gifted from God – God’s and ours at the same time.

We can see that all over.  A recent story featured the photograph below of a group of fast food workers joining a woman in prayer who had shared with the cashier that just a few hours before she had lost her husband.   Humanity at its best.  God’s loving work among us and through us. A picture that answers in some small way, “How do we love God?”

 

 

 

Thanksgiving When It Is Hard

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

Thanksgiving, when it is hard.  What do we do?

Some years.  Some years are simply loss.

Maybe one idea.

Christianity is a story not an answer.  

Sometimes that story shines, shines beyond what we can contain, what we can hold.  Gives easy rise to abundance and gratitude. And other times, the story is hard.  Painful to beyond painful.  And what we mistakenly try to do, often well intentioned, is to give others “the answer.”

My son, a first responder, spoke to me this Thanksgiving of loss.  The death of a 3 year old.   Still can’t shake it.  Sees a young child in a Walmart and he returns to to that farm.  And that loss.  There are no words.  None.  Nothing shiny and bright there.  My heart breaks hearing his broken.

And I know when its time … and that time maybe months, maybe years in the future, maybe decades … my son and I will talk of stories. We will talk of loss and suffering.  And maybe there grows a crack in that suffering as we come to speak of redemption. Of life continued. Of goodness, and people, and love, of the humane tissue stitched together in spite of the dark.  Of Easter.

I am thankful for my loving, tender son.  I am thankful for a story.  Even when life is hard.

What does it mean to be “born again”?

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

People many times call with tragedy or pain right there.  Right in the midst of their life … a pain that takes our breath away.  A loss.  A crippling doubt. Fear.

And what I know of Christianity is that it has to work there too.  I know this …. Weddings are easy.  Funerals are hard.   And somehow through the very painful we are born again.

Amanda Haines shared a beautiful blog post, written in the midst of great pain.  A moving testimony to “born again”, what New Church calls “regeneration”, re-creation.

When He breathed, my chest rose.

I was trained to argue, but His breath came when I lay with nothing to say, how broken I was.

I had nothing with which to entice anyone to come to my rescue. I made no argument and no fight; I wasn’t budging in my own power, because I had no power with which to budge.

The presence of God, Spirit, warmed my blood and assembled my bones. I crawled to the bed, like one who heard a voice in the desert, saw fire in the bush.

A path cleared in me. I whispered, “I am free”— lungs full of air. I was newborn.

The weight of legions lifted, taste of forbidden fruit gone from the mouth, sting of death removed.

The Bible from class was on the bed, and I drank it like hindmilk. I was broken but filled. The hush in my spirit, this was freedom, the presence of God.

Freedom is peace.

The first of many births I would witness was my own. I was born into the light.

I would have waited on that linoleum floor until I starved, waited there to be raised from the dead, or be made dead, whichever.

I can’t explain the difference in what was happening in my head and in my heart and in my body. It was all taking new form.

I didn’t lie down so that when I stood up I might believe. I lay down to die because I was done with moving about in a body that had no life.

The fact that the presence of God was so obvious, like Road-to-Damascus obvious, was absolutely shocking to me. I had never felt so pursued or so loved, and love is what got me up off the floor.

As my eyes came open to something so simple as love, that God loves me, I was overcome with new desire: more than for a warm body—for skin on skin; more than for the taste of home— biscuits and gravy on a family morning; and more than for any drug to numb my pain.

I didn’t know who I was, filling with such delight, the allure of God. His meeting me on the floor was my release from being bogged down in self-awareness and loathing. He released me from feeling required to entice love, to always make an offering.

I became aware of God who loved me first.

 

A Tale of Two Faces

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Alex Sullivan, father of two, was one of 12 victims of the shooting last week in Colorado.  His face tells one story.

James Holmes, his killer, shows a different face, a different story.

Each face, in a certain sense, points to a tragedy.  How can a human mind become  so “unhinged?”  How can the beautiful life of a father of two be cut so violently short?  There are no easy answers here.  Just a yawning chasm of pain.

I was struck reading an article recently in the New York Times that talked of reconciliation.  That article was titled “After Assassinations, Basque Killers Explain.”  It told the story of a program, in Spain, in which convicted ETA terrorists, many facing life in prison, come face to face with the victims of their violence in the form of family members who lost loved ones. The hope is that it will bring closure for these families.  So clear that in the terrorists  they talked to, a certain numbness or callousness held sway, and allowed them to approach violence simply as a “job.”  As one now middle aged terrorist noted, “How can you explain what you are thinking when you are 19? You know so little.”

What was most moving however was the story of one elderly woman who lost her husband to a terrorist attack.   The murderer, serving life in prison offered these reflections to the reporter after meeting with the widow.  ”For him, the most moving moment was at the end of the conversation when the elderly woman leaned toward him and put her hand on his shoulder. “My son,” she said. “How did you end up here?”

There is compassion in those words almost beyond human understanding.  And maybe that is all we can bring to events like Colorado, encapsulated in that searching question, “How did you end up here?”