Sunday, August 13, 2006

Returning and Rest

It is the middle of August and the days are moving forward with easier momentum. That is, if you don't count the current war in the Middle East, the attempted bombing of airliners, the continuing war in Iraq--and it is a war, not a conflict--reminiscent of Viet Nam, and of course, all of the other griefs and grievances foregone, home and abroad.

And as awful as it all is, we have to remember that we cannot bear the burdens of the world. It's not our place. Yes, we can do what we can, we can care and pray, and try to empathize with the suffering and inhumanity, but we cannot own it in our own persons. When we do this, it is far too overwhelming to bear, and those who try to bear it end up unable to do anything for anyone, much less help themselves.

This is why we pray.

We pray because there is One who can make a difference. It's not always the difference we hope or pray for, but a difference is made nonetheless. It is not a difference we necessarily understand or "see" but it is still a difference. We know that in addition to giving to Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross or the Red Crescent, or UNICEF, or any of a number of human-driven and care-powered organizations, that prayer is making a difference in someone's life somewhere in this vast, writhing world. It is in praying that we can allow ourselves the time and means to heal ourselves from thinking we have to bear the weight of the world in our hearts and souls.

You see, we are not made to carry such enormity of sorrow, pain and grief. That is not how God made us. Jesus Christ enables us, gives us the tools to appropriately lay the sorry, the pain, the grief down on His shoulders, in His hands through grace. And living His hope and love doesn't hurt either.

I have always believed that each person is capable of distributing this gift--grace-- far and wide, if they chose to do so. Some do. Some don't. We don't always know who these people are, except for the blatantly obvious examples of the "don't" faction. And here I refer to those with no palpable conscience, who enjoy the killing of innocents or the torture of those who hold a different point of view or way of life.

But more often than not, we can tell who the "doers" are. They cry when they see a picture on the news or in a magazine of suffering and unnecessary death, they contribute to a special cause that will help alleviate the pain and suffering of others, they help the stranger on the street in their own home town. They also hold their own private sorrows at bay in order to help others. Yet their sorrows count too. They are not easy to see or detect, these sorrows and griefs of the givers, and therein lies the difficulty.

Making the concerted effort to get to know people takes a certain amount of bravery, assertiveness and care. And I acknowledge that not everyone can pull off any one or all of these necessary things. The gestures do not have to be grand, or loud or even expensive. In fact the best gestures are the ones that cost nothing; they are the more touching and considerate every day sorts of things. But even these cost something. Jesus said it is better to give than to receive, and He should know, right? Exactly. My point is that it doesn't have to involve money. Pick a flower from your flower bed, fruit or vegetables from your garden, hand make a card, give an unused quilt or throw, offer to work on a car [makes sure you know what you are doing!], bake bread or cookies or a cake, make a meal and take it to your elderly or handicapped neighbor, keeping an eye on your neighbor's house when they are gone, feed someone else's pet, read a book to a child or elderly person...I could go on but I might break my blogspot.

So in my returning, I have found the kind of rest that only my close friends, deacons, and priests can give. They can tell when I am bearing a burden and they--in their own individual ways--take a little so it's not so heavy. Yes, the main ingredient is grace as a good number of them are from church, but the others are not so much believers as simply good and caring people. And in so doing they make my life a bit more hopeful and not so sorrowful, and encourage me along the way. I thank them too, with all that I am.

We have wars going on inside of us all the time, and famines and even terrorists attacks [you know, panic and anxiety episodes; those are what I deem the internal and infernal terror attacks of the soul and spirit]. If we would only pray and meet with our Creator, the Earthmaker and Redeemer, a difference could be made in us, so that we can make a difference in the world around us. So, check in on your fellow parishioner, your neighbor, the stranger on the street or plane...we might be entertaining angels for all we know.

Returned to the blogosphere...


... said...

"Returned to the blogosphere..."

Woo HOO!! and there was much rejoicing!

I'm glad you're back, Catherine+, and even moreso because you had a chance to rest and reflect. Your post shows that while you may have been away, your soul and your heart have been very busy regardless.

atticus said...

catherine, i checked in earlier today, just to see if perhaps you had returned again for the thirsty plants...but alas no...then, later, voila! the email tells me you have returned..with wise words and hopeful tone and graceful greetings. good to "hear" your voice again.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Welcome back, Catherine!