Friday, December 28, 2007

The Journey Itself

As 2008 approaches, many are reflecting on the year that has passed and looking forward to a new one with fresh goals. I learned a great deal in 2007. One of the challenges for me in 2007 was keeping faith. In general I am not someone who loses belief in God or the gracious force that guides the universe. I do lose faith in people. I find myself becoming disillusioned, saddened, and even angered by others who waste opportunities, impair others who would do good works, or simply treat others with cruelty, malice, ignorance. For the most part I think we all try hard. But I see more people every day becoming self indulgent, excuse-mongering anger addicts.

Where, then, to look for guidance? This past year there were revelations about Mother Theresa of Calcutta and her loss of trust in God as her life came to a close. I was shocked to hear others discounting both her work and her spirit as a result of these revelations. For in spite of a darkening heart, one that found it increasingly hard to trust God's plan, she continued to her final breath to help others. She served humanity even in the throes of doubt.

Jesus questioned the plan, too. He wept tears of blood at Gethsemane and begged for a way out. He went willingly to his cross, but in agony asked "why have you forsaken me?" Perhaps those who worship him should consider that when condemning a little woman who did God's work even when she found it hard to hear God's voice. "I am just a little pencil in God's hand," she used to say. When her certainty of glory in the afterlife waned, her dedication to others did not.

I want to make that kind of determination my guide. I'm no Mother Theresa, nor would I want to be. But how can I fail to admire the strength it takes to plow onward through the hard times without really knowing if any reward awaits? Surely the journey itself, and whatever good I can do along that path, is worth its conclusion even if no reward awaits. As my dear friend Maria often says, "what if life itself is your reward?"

When you live with a terminal illness people tend to respond in one of two ways: denial on your behalf or fear and shock that such a thing can happen. The denial camp tends to respond with dismissal. "You'll be fine, they'll find a cure tomorrow," delivered in a saccharine voice followed by a fast change of subject. The message: it's too scary, so we're going to pretend it will go away and I am simply NOT going to think about nasty things. The fear/shock camp has a more natural response: holy crap how does somebody deal with THAT? From those people I often get offers of prayer (always deeply appreciated) and gentle questions. "How do you deal?"

I believe a power beyond us drives this universe. I believe in good and evil, but suspect we (humankind) drive most (if not all) of both forces. I believe in angels, in the power of releasing a light intent on good things into the world, and that the balance of endless chaos responds to darkness with light eventually. I believe in getting up and going on with an open heart. And I believe I can be wrong. But like another woman who was "just a pencil in God's hand" I believe the journey to be worthwhile regardless. So if I take a drive to visit a little shop at the end of a meandering country road lined with maples covered in snowy lace, it's cool if the store is closed when I arrive. Not everyone takes note of what rolls past as they move along the roads of their daily travels. For me the trees and rivers, incredible skies at dawn and dusk, and even the people I meet on the way are reward enough. Anything else is just icing on the cupcake.

2 comments ]:[ Add your comment:

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Wonderful post, Chrissy. Having once been agnostic, I find my faith much stronger than it ever was before. I see this life as transient of course, a small part of the eternal whole of the lives our souls live. Because our challenges here are merely that, challenges that we learn from in order to evolve into higher beings, I find it easier to accept the hardships life has to offer. In the overall scheme of things they are merely lessons learned that will take us farther in spirit and ultimately closer to God/dess.

Sela Carsen said...

That was beautiful, Chrissy. I'm distressed that people question the faith of others in any way. Only Mother Theresa knew her own heart.

And though she may have been only a pencil, she wrote more purely than most.

Post a Comment