Kavanna House

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Oct
16

more questions

 

My daughter and I were enjoying dinner at Panera and delving into the theological quagmire of a good God who doesn’t keep bad things from happening.  She has an up close view into suffering through her development work on behalf of the marginalized in southeast Nepal. 

 

Our conversation was broader than the abject poverty she witnesses in her travels to Nepal and included the recent hurricanes that devastated parts of Texas, Florida and all of Puerto Rica as well as other islands in the Caribbean. It held her grief over the death of a dear friend’s stillborn baby. I added the earthquake in Mexico and the shooting in Las Vegas to the pile of suffering.

 

We wrestled with how our all-knowing, everywhere-present, all-powerful God doesn’t intervene and avert tragedy. We agreed that Trinity is relational and has given humankind free will. And we also observed how Jesus in the Scriptures trumped the effects of death, disease, birth defects, and mental illness with miraculous healings. The Bible also records that his voice calmed a tumultuous sea and multiplied a picnic lunch to feed a hungry crowd, thus demonstrating his power over nature and limitations of supply.

 

And we wondered….if Jesus, God with us, intervened then on behalf of the people he walked among, why does God not intervene now?

 

Distress wrenches deep places in our souls when we allow ourselves to feel the shattered lives of suffering people.

 

Pain etched on the faces of those who lost. 

 

Grief shatters the countenance of mothers whose babies were crushed in fallen buildings.

 

Hopelessness reflected in the eyes of women and children without resources.

 

Men with shoulders slumped under the weight of heartache.

 

Our souls assaulted with the constant fighting between nations and within nations, between people and within the hearts of people. And all the innocent ones caught in the middle.

 

In our anguish we bellow…Why??? And find no solace.

 

My daughter speaks of a vulnerable God. I remember Jesus who wept at his friend’s grave and wailed over the city of Jerusalem.  How do I reconcile the reality of the suffering in the world with my belief in a good God?

 

Am I asking the wrong questions? What if I ask these questions?

 

Who are you, God? Who are you to me?

 

What are you doing, God? What can I do to alleviate suffering from my place in the world?

 

Where are God’s fingerprints in the world, in my life?

 

When will God’s kingdom come? When will peace trump my need for understanding?

 

How is God speaking in these circumstances? How is God speaking through me?

 

Perhaps if I hold these questions in my heart and listen for God, I will say like Job of old, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”

 

Perhaps…

 

 

Photo Credit: Deb Turnow


Melanie Horning is learning to ask better questions, offer herself and others compassion without judgment, and accept what is with gratitude. She likes indulging in homemade coffee ice cream, exploring the world through the eyes of her toddler granddaughter, and listening to the night sounds . It is her privilege to offer spiritual direction to people on the journey of life.

 

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Oct
09

darkness

 

Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.

 

-Joan D. Chittister

 

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Oct
01

i fallin'

 

 

 


When our daughter was a toddler still in diapers, she worried about falling off the changing table. Twisting her head so that the end of the table was right in front of her eyes, she would cry, “I fallin’, Mama! I fallin’!”



My assurances that she was perfectly safe because I was right there with her, protecting her, did not always ease her fear. So I learned to say, “Look at Mama, Katie. Don’t look at the edge. Look at Mama.” As her focus shifted from the table edge to my face, she would grow calm.



I’ve been staring at an edge in recent weeks, focused on a potential fall that terrifies me. I have paid for this focus with headaches, occasional nausea, aching muscles, sensations of inner trembling. Even so, I’ve found it difficult to tear my eyes away, somehow convinced that my anxious vigilance would protect me.


                    


When I have succeeded in turning my gaze to Perfect Love, I have experienced comfort. But I have not experienced Perfect Love casting out the fear.



Enter a short essay called “Fear as a Spiritual Gift” (what?!) by Janet Hagberg. She writes:



“It may seem strange to think of fear as a spiritual gift [ya think?!] since it is one of the most pervasive and destructive emotions … Fear is usually a signal that something new is calling us. We are being asked to let go, to step up to the plate, to release someone or something, to change a system, to live a new script, or to take a new direction.”



Janet recommends bringing God into the process of listening to our fears and consciously choosing to face into them instead of relying on an old script.



Could it be that Perfect Love was not failing me by not taking my fear away? Could it be that Perfect Love was asking me to turn and face this fear that I’ve carried since childhood? Might Perfect Love be inviting me to listen to this fear and see it transformed into greater self-awareness and a deeper sense of God’s presence and protection?



With the help of a few trusted others, I am turning, facing, listening. Honestly, it feels like falling off the edge. And yet I have been graced with just enough faith to hope for healing, a new script, more freedom.



I have no tidy ending to this story. I have only a poem that I found at northumbriacommunity.org. It gives me courage, especially when I replace “he” with “Perfect Love.”



“Come to the edge,” he said.


“We can’t, we’re afraid!” they responded.


“Come to the edge,” he said.


“We can’t, we will fall!” they responded.


“Come to the edge,” he said.


And so they came.


And he pushed them.


And they flew.



Photo Credit: Deb Turnow


Nita Landis loves friendly laughter, the dahlias at Longwood Gardens, and Skype calls with her kids in Berlin, Blacksburg, and Denver. She finds joy in offering spiritual direction and words that shed light and give life.

 


 

 

 

 

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