A few years ago I attended a conference about spirituality and trauma conducted by Dr. Robert Grant. I highly recommend his book The Way of the Wound if you have either been affected by trauma in any way, or if you deal as a professional counselor, therapist, or pastoral care giver. The fact is that we all experience difficult times and very often trauma is at the heart of them.
During that seminar he went through a number of things and going back through my notes I decided to pull some of them out, you can note some of my dark humor and sarcasm, not that there is anything wrong with that…. But really all kidding aside these are abiding truths and they can be both uncomfortable and comforting at the same time. To me they actually help make sense of the world.
Back when I was in seminary and in my early years of ministry, in fact up until the time I landing in Iraq, I was filled with a lot of certitude. I can’t say that now, I have faith but I doubt at least as much as I believe. As baseball great Earl Weaver said: “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
So here are some truths, and as Oscar Wilde noted “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
Everyone Dies…. We can’t get around this one a recent study said that 96% of Americans will die someday.
Despite my snarkey comment the fact is that we live in a culture that denies death, while death is such an integral part of life.
No Guarantees…. We are not guaranteed anything in this life. You can live right, maintain good health, treat others right but still can meet with tragedy, betrayal and abandonment.
We all know people, very good people who do all the right things and despite that still experience trauma and tragedy.
No one can cover all contingencies…. No matter how well we plan there will be unanticipated events in life that shred our plans. The old saying that “no plan ever survives contact with the enemy” is true.
Now be assured I do believe in planning, including thinking about contingencies, and I do this pretty well. That being said there is seldom a week that goes by where I do not experience something that gums up my plans.
The things that we sometimes believe are solid and long lasting are often transitory in nature…. Even things that we think are solid and will last to the end of time change, deteriorate or dissolve over time.
Need I say more about this?
We and our world are finite…. We have a beginning and an end and our finiteness is sandwiched between the creation and the consummation. Dietrich Bonhoeffer talked about “living in the uncomfortable middle.” Bonhoeffer was right, we don’t know the beginning because we were not there and we do not know the end because it has not yet happened.
This thought by Bonhoeffer one drives a lot of people crazy, especially religious people who have to try to prove things that they cannot prove.
Evil and malevolence exists in individuals, organizations and systems, even those that we esteem highly…. One only has to look at the number of trusted people and organizations that have perpetrated and covered up their own evil acts to know the truth of this.
I believe in the goodness of most people, but I am also a realist, evil and malevolence is all too real and all to much a part of our world. Until we get that, we will never understand those that commit evil, especially those that do so in the name of God.
So anyway, since we are getting ready for another big winter storm I will close for the day. Tomorrow we’ll see what I put out, until then I think that I just might drink beer instead.
Peace and blessings