I am left to wonder today about one of the central questions of our humanity. The last twenty four hours have featured tragedy, miracles, love, hate, forgiveness, loss—and more. A casual read of Facebook comments from my friends reveal the entire list of possible human emotions and actions—successes and failures. Within those words and posts are as many reasons for there to be a God and a point to the whole human experience—as there are mysteries, questions, and doubts about it all.
I will not be one of those religious types who greet the worst that this world can offer with the dismissive and disrespectful phrase “its Gods Will”. I find it hard to even bring faith to the table in the face of the death of a child—or the diagnosis that ends with discussions about Hospice, or any of the other myriad moments that bring us to our knees in confusion and despair about this life, this world, and this creation.
Like everyone else, I have these questions from my own past. In my own case the loss of my Mother who would have turned sixty-seven years old this week. In the last eight months of her life she was brought through a terrible and horrifying journey, her physical form changed nearly beyond recognition by a rare and untreatable disease. From memories of the senseless moments in a hospital chapel I can recall how little comfort can be found from logic, or faith, or bargaining. From the memories of an even more dramatic day, four years before, on my birthday—when so many lives were erased for the sake of a senseless political ideology I can recall the same questions as I watched a swirling and hateful column of black smoke rise over my home.
On these, the darkest of all days, regardless of scale, we simply want answers. Why does this have to happen? Why must this earth, why does this supposedly loving God allow to happen to his children so much pain—so much unexplainable heartache. What is the benefit to allowing this to happen? For what reason are we shown glimpses of beauty and then, in single breath—or the very next online post—tales of complete horror and of sadness.
I can not know that answer. I don’t believe any of us do or ever will in this realm. But I do know that there are lessons to be had in these events and these reminders of our humanity. For it is in these moments that we are shown the beauty of the human spirit—and the capacity of love. Without the darkest of days we would likely never know the whole breadth of the human ability to share, encourage, support, and care. From that suffering whether local or global, is born the impetus that drives human beings to ask the questions—to help their brother or sister—and to take a stand in the cases where they can against the tragedies that we can prevent.
For as long as we are likely to reside on this planet there will never be a cure for all the things that can befall a man, woman, or child. The doctors will always be one or two steps behind—and the truth of our mortality (and our birth) is the one thing upon which all human beings can agree. Perhaps that is why it serves as the one point where we can all begin—to love, to share, to understand, to help, and to forgive. For it is in how we handle death and tragedy—that our strengths as humanity are revealed.
I do not know for what reason it occurs every single day to so many people—but I do know that for any progress to be made, for any growth to happen, we must take from these tragedies the lesson that we are all God’s children, Allah’s Children; Buddha’s Children—we are all one. So when these terrible realities of our human condition affect a friend, a family member or a community—perhaps the question of why, even though it is often first, is not really the most important question at all.
Perhaps the most important question is— what’s next? How will you help bring love into the darkness that can be the human experience? For that is the only part over which we have any control or any real understanding. To love is our greatest gift-- and our greatest obligation. Most of all at the times that bring only questions and few if any answers.