Even though I’m a person of faith, I don’t believe there’s some Cosmic Overlord with a Big Balance Sheet in the Sky. If there were, He or She would have a lot of puzzling questions to answer. I read these articles that basically say, “I’m an atheist because how could God let children get sick?” Um. We all have those questions, struggles, and concerns. If that’s what a person thinks that faith is, or isn’t, then I can understand why they’d be so appalled by it. Most of us are a little more nuanced than that. We really don’t think there’s a big Checklist of Fairness in the Sky. I’d like to think that most of us get to adulthood with the sad realization that bad things happen to “good” people, regardless of faith.
But if I did believe in some Cosmic Overlord, it would explain why sometimes crappy things happen around the same time that really wonderful things happen. The year that we got married, we also had a cancer diagnosis in the family, a bar exam, a broken arm (and subsequent surgery – thanks a lot, gravity), an Alzheimer’s diagnosis on the other side of the family, and a hurricane that rolled through town a few weeks before the big day. It was overwhelming, to say the least.
The year that Ben was born, I was a little bit worried that I’d be manic with joy because it was spring time, I wouldn’t be pregnant any more, and I’d have a new baby. Then, Ben got colic and I got steamrolled by a big ol’ dose of postpartum depression. Rain, meet parade.
This year, even though our move was overwhelming, I’d say that we’ve been more overwhelmed by joy. In love with our new home. Content. At peace.
Boom. Sickness. Big time. We have all been sick in some form or another for what seems like forever. Given my penchant for self-flagellation, I could blame myself, I suppose, as the mother and chief nutritionist, but I don’t think that’s quite accurate, or fair. I think it’s been a bad season for germs for a lot of families, and it might be that we’re adjusting to local germs. It has been, quite frankly, a real bummer.
But then, to balance that out and bring us back to joy again, we have the most wonderful friends.
Friends that bring us the most delicious, fancy chocolate pudding ever, even after we had to uninvite them to our Fancy Oscar Party because of a fever-ish kid.
Friends who made us the most amazing bread before Thanksgiving, along with homemade pickles and chutney. Friends who bring us flowers. Friends who made (made!!) this beautiful wooden salt cellar (also known as a salt pig – who knew?!) in a beautiful wooden box. I might have squealed
a little a lot when I opened it.
Friends who bring us homemade chili and corn muffins. Homemade dog biscuits at our door on Christmas Eve. Little treasures left at church or at home for us. Friends who selflessly gave us delightful little Christmas ornaments from their own collection after some of ours were destroyed by what can only described as Houston Garage Conditions. Friends who give us countless suggestions for everything from doctors to hairstylists. Friends we’ve never even met – they’re friends of my parents – who made this gorgeous cookbook stand, which is almost too pretty to use for recipes, but not quite, because I’ve used it every day since I brought it home.
Does all this wonderfulness cancel out all the sickness? Heck no. It does soften the blow, though, and hopefully we’re going to be back on our feet and softening the blow of human-ness for someone else soon. Because even though I make no claim to theological expertise (seriously – make a joke about Calvinism and watch it fly right over my head while everyone else sips their Scotch and laughs knowingly through their pipe smoke), I do believe this:
Life is short,
And we do not have much time
to gladden the hearts of those who
make the journey with us.
So… be swift to love,
and make haste to be kind.
And the blessing of God,
who made us,
who loves us,
and who travels with us
be with [us] now and forever.
(A blessing given at the closing Eucharist of the 2010 convention of the Diocese of Maine, based on the words of Henri Frederic Amiel (1821-1881).)