Today, out in New Hampshire where The Great Aunt has been living, a few family members sit vigil by her side as she seems to be slipping away. I cannot be there to say good-by to a woman I have loved.
Seems we have entered a time of sadness and are feeling the grief of people passing away, of diagnosis of illnesses, of struggles against depression, of broken plans and dashed promises and other less noteworthy things like sinus infections and Japanese beetles eating your grapevine.
Our friend, Ed Hague who has fought a three-year battle against stage IV prostate cancer has thought a lot about despair and posted some brutally honest thoughts to his blog. See “The Benefits of Despair” on www.wedonotloseheart.com.
It seems to me that we Christians are often guilty of trying hard not to be in that dark place. Or perhaps what I mean to say is that we try to find ways of mitigating suffering and evil, even to the point where we worry that acknowledging despair is somehow heretical. Instead we pass on little sayings meant to tell us: “Get along little dogie” Can’t stay here, you know. Everything happens for a reason. When God closes the door he always opens a window.
Steve Froehlich writes with more realistic passion in the latest issue of Critique in the “Letters to the Editor”:
But these certainties, the ground of hope in Christ, do not resolve the massive uncertainties that cloud our lives right now. Nor do they provide us with explanations about how God is accomplishing that purpose in our lives or in our moment of history. But we are people who believe in the Resurrection, and we choose to be content living with hints and foretastes (none more important than the Eucharist) of the shalom of the world made new.
Yes. The crucible of human suffering seems somehow more relieved when we admit that life is often filled with “massive uncertainties.” To be together with others in the midst of shit is oddly, the very place where my hope and love in Christ grows.