Sudden tragedy has beset people I know and people I love. Sudden joy has crossed the paths of others.
It’s days like today I can almost subscribe to the chaos theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory). There seems no rhyme or reason to it all, and I sit back thankful things are OK in my world. There are many people I know who are experiencing let down, and somehow confuse it with genuine tragedy, because in their own perspective right now, it is.
Then there is true injury and death happening.
It seems to me tragedy cycles. We go for a time, untouched by the sadness that permeates so much. Then WHAM! Suddenly in my life or the lives of those close to me, wave upon wave of hardship falls. Then, just as quickly, it subsides and searches for another’s concentric circle of life to invade.
If life were as simple as some of my acquaintances say, our “good times” and our “bad times” would be brought on by our own action and sin. And while I believe that sometimes things happen in our lives as direct consequences of our actions — or inactions — sometimes crappy things happen for no apparently reason than we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And if religion were as simply as “this is right,” and “that is wrong,” we could formulate a theory that would carry anyone who would subscribe to it into a “perfect” life. But, life isn’t like that.
I just finished Anne Rice’s book, “The Road to Cana”. For anyone who doesn’t know, Rice is the famous author of such books as “Interview with a Vampire,” and “The Vampire LaStat”. Following the tragic death of her atheist husband, Rice returned to the Catholic faith of her childhood. Since that time, she has begun a series on the life of Christ. Always a phenomenal novelist and the consummate researcher, Rice’s books are a beautiful tapestry of faith, fact, and fiction.
These books trace the life of Jesus through the veiled times we know very little about. Her first, “The Road to Egypt” traced Jesus’ life during the years he lived in Egypt and during his return to Nazareth. This one talks about the years he comes into his understand of who he is … his baptism, his “trial in the wilderness,” and his first miracle. It is FICTION, and not intended for theological instruction (I know some have a tough time figuring out the difference). But it’s a beautiful portrayal of some of the nuances of which we do not know. And … her fiction has encouraged me in ways many “Christian” books cannot.
Rice ends the book with this statement, followed by a quote from Pope Benedict XVI:
“These novels, whatever their faults, have been written for Him. They have been written for Him and for any and all who seek Him, and seek to mediate on the mystery of the Incarnation. And if these books do not bring you closer to HIm, then you are urged, please, to put them aside.”
And from the Pope: “Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves; it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with Him who is the source of life. If we are in relationships with Him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. The we ‘live’.”
“Then we live.” “Life is …relationship.” What happens to those I love affects me because of our relationships.
I struggle with all things “eternal.” Not “for” or “against,” but simply wrestling with them. People I care about, gone from this life. Religion gives us a hope of things eternal — of seeing them again. Whenever tragedy strikes around me, I tend to re-visit what I know, what I think, and what I wonder about.
What I do know is that I can’t figure it all out. So, I take a deep breath, and look for ways to bring comfort and love to those I love and care about. And I do all I can to not fall into a nihilistic funk that mirrors the weather outside.
And believe that tomorrow will be a better day.