Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Faith and Fear

If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.

Fear is the most important concept in that sentence, as I see it today. C. S. Lewis mentioned that grief was so much like fear. For me, his description rings true.

Fear is a paralyzing, destabliizing, and insidious force. Fear, rather than hate or indifference, may be the opposite of love. Whether it is love's exact opposite is irrelevant, fear is far from love. And yet grief enters in feeling like fear or perhaps bringing fear with it.

Fear cannot be negotiated with or thought away. Fear responds only to action. This quote is call to courage in response to fear to do something counter to fear. Fear left to ahve free reign occupies all emotional, mental, psychological and spiritual space. Action demonstrates to fear that it is not allowed to own a soul.

And yet action must arise from conviction, no matter how small or doubted that conviction might be. It is no small matter to take a single action in the presence of fear because it requires the extent of courage which exists.

Even little things, in the presence of great fear, are incredibly courageopus, even if objectively insiginficant. It is the relative sigificance that matters. No one can know the extent of another's courage until they know the extent of their fear.

Fear visits me as I am watching and sharing the grief of my friends. It calls for me to quit, to despair, to roll over. And the call has a convincing logic. The death of a child is a fearful and compelling argument. God's love is a tough thing to understand in this time. This is where the rubber of my faith meets the road of this world.

But it looks like the choice is clear, despair or believe. And I believe. I am in no position to make a great argument for the case of faith, but I believe that there is life after this life and that death is a mystical mediating process from this life to the next - like birth is a mediating (and from my observations a painful) process from womb-life to life outside the womb.

I lean on the story of Jesus raising from the dead and trust that being raised is the result for us all. In the conext of fear and pain, faith is much less easy to discern. However, having the story of Christ and all of the evidence of God all over the world does not disappear when a piece of the life we live does not make sense. It just places seemingly conflicting things right next to each other.

I think I'll end with this: faith makes at least as much sense as despair in the loss of a child. And to be sure, these will jockey for position. The work of grief is in large part the work of faith. It is the undoing of fear's imposition into life.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I just do not understand

Some very dear friends of mine just lost their son. He got a MRSA infection and in less than two weeks he was gone.

I can't get my mind around this loss. The great desire is to ask, to scream "Why?" And yet there is no hope for an answer. And if there were an answer, would it do any good? No.

I am deeply saddened. My friend's lives are changed forever. A huge piece of their lives, with a million little strings attached to him, is gone, and now those million little strings hang, they dangle loosely with no tension.

I want to be with them, but they are 1000 miles away. I don't know what I could do were I to be there, but I know that is where I want to be. I thinking about making a trip.

The thought keeps piercing my heart...he's gone. I resist. My disbelief fights so hard for credibility, and yet sets itself up for pain. He is gone. Nothing in me wants to believe this, but I have no choice. It's like I want to say, "he's not gone, it must be something else," but it isn't ever going to be something else. Everything has come to a screeching halt.

Death is so imposing, unrelenting, and cruel. It only takes. It gives nothing - ever.

It is times like these that make the resurrection story so appealing. It is the only hope. If we could see things from the other side, it might look differently. We might see death as a mediator between life and LIFE. And yet we must cling to the life that there is here, for it all we have access to. And we must accept that death, for whatever reason, gets a say so.

God, please surround my friends with people who can tolerate their intense grief, embrace their souls, people who are tireless and wise. Put people in their lives who can take care of menial tasks, who will cook the food and clean their house. Bless them with hope. Let them lean on their faith with the weight of their pain and doubt...and find their faith bouyed by something true. Please show yourself to them in their darkest hour. Let them cry in your presence.