Monday, April 13, 2009

the persistent struggle in faith

Unsettling, unspeakable, untamed, vile and heartbreaking events have been chronicled in the news on a daily basis recently. Thirteen innocent lives were taken in a ghastly shooting rampage in Binghamton, NY on April 3, 2009. A few days later, an eight year old girl’s lifeless body was found packed into a suitcase near an irrigation pond in California. And on the 11th of April, authorities discovered a 19 year old mother and her 23 month old son shot dead in a New Orleans apartment, along with a 6 year old boy that died on the way to the hospital. These are just a few of the senseless, depraved and violent news updates of late. And the sad reality is that depraved violence has been occurring repeatedly throughout human history. Perhaps because of a broader media network and magnified reporting I am more aware of these horrific crimes today than in the past. These news events fodder and foster in me, an enormous and continual struggle, which pits my pessimistic world view against my positive world view.

Without being heinous, some deaths are nonetheless quite senseless. Just a week ago I attended a memorial service for a 31 year old woman. Merely weeks ago she was a healthy, bright-eyed, energetic, caring, talented and strikingly beautiful woman. No matter how hard I try, I cannot render a satisfactory understanding of her passing. Even in the prime of our lives and health, our existence can change abruptly. Dangerous diseases, freak accidents and improbable injuries run parallel to our lives each day. In the case of my friend, a path from vitality to illness to coma to death was short and not far astray.

Yesterday was Easter, and I spent a sizeable part of the day hunting for eggs, eating chocolate in the shape of bunnies and walking around tables adorned with brightly colored tulips. Rituals established (for those who believe) to serve as symbols of birth, life and new beginnings in order to bookend on the long told faith driven event that the son of God resurrected from his death. These activities, candies and flowers also make do to mitigate deliberation on how Jesus was brutally and barbarically crucified at the age of 33. Again I struggle, in this case, with my identity as a Christian. How much of this biblical account can I believe? Will I ever connect the puzzle pieces and reveal the meaning of life? Will we rise from our ashes and walk again among our creator? Is there a heaven? Is there a hell? When does our existence begin? When does it end?

I knew my 31 year old friend to be kind, affable, generous, optimistic, innocent and genuine. My feelings and my gut tell me that her existence, as I witnessed, was more intricate than I can understand. The sins of today make it difficult for me to feel connected to a Higher Power. And based on the history of humanity, I may have felt the same way if I had lived 2009 years ago. But, my feeling that at least one person may have made it to the other side in glory changes my perspective. I still cannot connect the puzzle pieces, but I do resist doubt and I do allow myself to surrender my thoughts and feelings to a vast and open universe of possibility.

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