What a week! I type those 3 little words and my fingers stop because I don’t even know where to start. Saying “What a week,” could be followed up with good news or not so good news. It has been a week that has been bizarre, interesting, confusing, enlightening, wounding, painful and ever so profound.
I recently went to Joplin, Missouri to be with the Unity congregation there. The previous Sunday the church had been destroyed by a tornado that took out a large part of this small town. After the church service, I went to the site where their building used to be. It looked like a war zone. All I could do was stand where Fellowship Hall had once been and slowly turn in a circle hoping that something would begin to make sense, that I might know where to start with clean up, or that I might wake up from this otherworldly scene.
When I finally felt my breath breathing me, the paradox around me started to emerge. I don’t think I had ever witnessed a scene that was so unnatural looking. I whispered those words out loud, and as I exhaled the last word, it occurred to me that while I was looking at something so unnatural and otherworldly, ironically, it had been created by a natural disaster. I stood perfectly still. The sounds of the traffic, the heavy machinery working on clean up, the chainsaws cutting down hanging tree limbs, the wind whistling long and hard around me, voices of people offering fruit and water to workers… it all disappeared. My world was silent as I wrestled with the contradiction in front of my eyes.
Throughout the rest of the day as I walked through the rubble, I slowly began to see signs of life. Like those LED lights on highways telling you about construction ahead, these little harbingers of creation were lighting up all around me as if to say, “Life finds way.” The only pew left standing still had the love offering envelopes intact in the pocket. A bookshelf with only 2 books left on it, one titled, “I of the Storm.” A partial wall from the youth ministry with giant trees painted on it, echoes of the tree of life.
The more I looked around at the destruction, the more I could feel my heart beating inside me. Every thump in my chest was the pulsating universe making itself visible to me, bringing me back into the web of life, where everything is connected and where nothing is left out.
I drove the 2.5 hours home in silence, sometimes crying, sometimes smiling, always enveloped in awe and wonder as feelings ebbed and flowed. I could not find words to describe my day, so I let it have its own life inside me, a wordless existence of affliction and gladness that was my language, and mine alone, a language of wholeness. And this was only the beginning of the week.
The next morning I woke to the sound of my soul calling out to find beauty around me, to see a different image than the day before. So I took myself to the local botanical gardens, and indeed was greeted by smiling faces of the infinite forms of creation. A spider just beginning a web with dew drops glistening, butterflies flitting about sucking sweet nectar, and fields of flax stretching themselves towards the sky, as if to say, “Look mom, look how far I can reach! When I grow up I’m gonna touch the clouds!”
It was a sweet, lingering day. One with so much flavor that it hangs on the palate because it knows you will need to draw on this memory very soon. And indeed I did. The next three days were ones filled with deep pain, confusion and sadness. By the end of the week, three of my relationships were forever changed, one had chosen to leave my life, another is more distant because I realized, once again, not everyone is comfortable with the depth of vulnerability their soul is calling them to, and the third… I don’t know, I am still finding my way through. Life is finding a way.
Carl Jung said, “Thus I suffered and was miserable, but it seems that life was never wanting and even in the blackest night, and just there, by the grace of God I could see a great light. Somewhere there seems to be great kindness in the abysmal darkness of the Deity.”
Isn’t this the basic paradox of life, that in times of great loss and anger the pulse of my life, that heartbeat of anguish and love, waits for everything to be stripped away? And so in that nakedness I am exposed – my empty hands reaching out to feel the presence of everything that speaks a wordless, universal language through me and to me. “Hold onto nothing in order to know the presence of everything, this is how life finds a way, this is how spirit finds a way.”
So this week I make visible once again that God comes in every voice, every memory, and in every moment of weariness and exultation. To close off any of these is to close off life. I am on a journey, rarely knowing the outcome, but a journey that honors my endless connection to all life, that challenges me and gives me an eternal invitation to bring that life, that light of spirit, into the world, to make the invisible visible, to be the blossoming heart, the pulsating bloodstream of life finding a way.