“What we call destiny is usually determined by two or three casual decisions which on the surface seem about as important as spitting gum through a sewer grate.” James Lee Burke. The Night Johnny Ace Died, from the short story collection, Jesus Out to Sea.
The gap between expectations and reality grows during the Christmas season. If the Buddha is correct and all suffering is the result of expectation, then, hot damn, we got us a mess of confused and disappointed people this time of year. Every year.
This year, of course, a young man in Connecticut killed hope and joy and forced us all to question what we’re creating, or allowing or cultivating in our society. People sought answers desperately and, in the time it takes to squeeze a trigger, offered suggestions that ranged the gamut from ‘outlaw all guns’ to ‘arm everyone.’
My mind, my soul, ran in that same maze, bumped up against this solution and that possibility. Until, exhausted, I fell back on my favorite bible verse.
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
The first part of that Psalm is what I always have trouble with. Thoughts and chatter fill my brain, flood my heart. It’s taken me this long to get even a little close to the ‘be still’ instruction.
For me, it does no good during these times of pain to plaster on a smile and pretend I accept that God is Good and God is great and the world is filled with Goodness and Light.
In fact, the divide between expectations and reality only widens when I fall into that trap.
So, 3:30 this morning, the covers twisted around me in bed and reading my favorite author. There, in black and white, Burke spelled it out for me. With his usual beautiful prose and insight into the human condition, the author thumbed his nose at the world’s darkness and I heard the voice of God.
Allow me to paraphrase:
“Shit happens. Move on. Find the light. Accept the world for the hard, sometimes ugly place it is. Find a way to cherish the good in the midst of the rankest evil.”
Be still and know that I am God.