Saturday, December 29, 2012

Not seeing is believing

I wrote recently of an event where many young lives ended together, violently and unexpectedly.

This past Christmas Day, a family in my friend's community in Thailand lost its son, husband, father when the effects of a motorbike accident proved beyond recovery.

In May, the day after sustaining my fifth concussion in six years, I attended a movement workshop facilitated by a warm, bubbly woman who spoke gladly of her young sons (it seems there were a couple of us whose rough-and-tumble approach to contact improv brought preteen boys to mind. Hmm.) and her walk with our Creator. I learnt not long after that she had died suddenly: one moment she was back from school run, saying she didn't feel quite right; the next, this physically fit 48-year-old was gone.

I just learnt that my former undergraduate classmate recently suffered a third miscarriage just before Christmas.

I grieved when I heard about each of these. I grieve still. Loss is something that can never be completely reconciled in this life. I grieve for families standing in this instant void that requires a whole new way of living. I grieve for sons and daughters made aware that they must guard memories of the departed parent well if they want them to remain, because no more will ever be added. I grieve for spouses who found a good thing and had it taken away. I grieve for dreams of parenthood that seem too elusive to attain.

I grieve for our sense of safety, our belief in the order and fitness of things. This is the way I am; I don't need to take on others' pain. Simply by virtue of being who I am, I already feel it. I used to ask that my heart be made less tender so that I wouldn't hurt so much. Nothing changed; so I am learning instead to ask that my constantly broken heart be made a gift, and that its constant need for healing draw me closer to its beautiful Healer.

In this inevitable grief, I find myself at a point of decision.

Shall I believe that all is not in order and will never be? There is ample evidence to this effect in our clattering, limping world.

Shall I believe that beneath the cruel chaos lies a greater order that we cannot see because of our proximity? There is even greater evidence to that effect if we choose to ask the One who can see.

Faith, someone once wrote, is the conviction of things not seen.

How I ache for that conviction to be loudest as I navigate this seemingly senseless world.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

When something breaks...

... that something being news, big bad news about a young man shooting his own mother and then a bunch of schoolchildren and faculty before shooting himself...

... when it is plain that news isn't the only thing breaking, that there are shattered hearts lying everywhere in town and in affected families scattered abroad, parents who may never be able to look a festive decoration in the eye again, children who've learnt in the worst possible way that the world itself is broken and sometimes that which we've taught them to believe separates the good from the bad actually doesn't...

Image by Bjarne Henning Kvaale
... when so much is broken and still breaking, do we really need media crews flocking to the scene to interview victims?

Do we really need to see in such great detail how the boys and girls are feeling right after barely surviving said attack?

Do we really need a close-up of a teacher who's had the worst schoolday ever?

What does it fulfil in us when we see the grief-twisted faces of loss, rather than simply taking note that this atrocity happened and calling on the Compassionate One to mend all the brokenness?

Why do strangers the world over need so much information? Really, why? Do we need to agree how bad something is before we'll agree it's bad?

I deliberately did not link to any of the coverage. You probably know what happened, and where would my credibility be if I linked to the very object I'm decrying?

Friday, December 14, 2012


I spent weeks making a choice that truly required much less time and effort than I ended up giving it.

It renewed my awareness that I, and perhaps most other humans, do not like the concept of "Or" very much.

We prefer And.

We have a hard time making a final pronouncement because we know it will mean turning away from all other options.

In this case, it was a simple matter of when I would fly to which Southeast Asian city. That was all. But still I struggled, drafted plans, scribbled them out, started over, repeated until the dusty corner of my brain that once knew a few things about programming screamed that I should JUST BREAK THE INFINITE LOOP ALREADY.

The difficulty came from accepting that if I chose this flight, I would be in Singapore and not Australia on that day. If I chose that flight, I would be in Thailand but not Singapore or Australia. Then I saw the silliness of it all because if I wanted to concern myself with all the places I wasn't going to be at any given time, well, why stop at three? It would take me a while to think my way through a whole globe's worth of cities and countries and those little hidden corners one can only discover through getting lost.

Taken during my first week living in the granted wish

So the choices have been made, and I hope I will have learnt my lesson: a little deliberation is prudent, but often I just have to push myself off balance and see to which side of the wall I fall. Surely I know by now that whichever way I go, I will never be separated from all that's good in my life.

Maybe falling isn't the best analogy for someone as accident prone as me to use, but it seems appropriate to the context and picture.

Resolution of the moment: Think less. Fall more. But not literally, for a change.
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