I think we all experience the deep desire to make sense of life. This can seem very possible at times when things are going well and providence smiles upon us. Then there are the times when we are confronted with world events of violence or disaster or when circumstance brings us face to face with the unimaginable, horrible, hurtful parts of life. Lives cut short or ending needlessly are the most intense experiences of senselessness I can think of. Death is part of life, but it extends beyond our sensory experience or ability to comprehend, and then when it comes violently or unexpectedly it brings us to our knees and shakes the very foundation of what we call sense. This is where we need faith.
In the past few months I have had personal experiences of this. In April the mother of one my ten year old daughter's friends died after a three month battle with an aggressive form of kidney cancer. I was not close friends with this woman, but we would chat in the classroom or when we got our girls together to play. She was young, vibrant, full of life. In February she was diagnosed with cancer and in April she was gone. When I heard the news of her passing I was stunned. I felt shaken and bruised to my very core. How could that happen? I could not understand, there was no sense in this whatsoever. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am in an inquiry of spirit and faith, and I asked how god, goddess, or universal spirit could be at work here?
Today is the funeral for the stepfather of my brother's girlfriend. I did not know him at all and yet I am profoundly stricken by his death. He was deeply depressed and took his own life, leaving behind a wife, children, grandchild and extended family and friends. In speaking to my brother about this my heart ached intensely as he cried and said that it did not make sense, that he could not understand. I have struggled with depression in my life and know how it clamps down and becomes suffocating and unbearable. It is an illness, and sometimes it causes death, but unlike other illnesses it has a stigma attached and leaves family and friends in deep trauma. The aftermath of it's senselessness is staggering and the questions and emotions beyond all reason. How to find strength and faith to go on, in the face of that shattering senselessness is a difficult question.
I don't really have an answer to that question. I can only say that in my experience and experimentation on my road to healing that breathing always works or starts the larger process. My wise teacher Megha often says,"Fear and breath cannot exist in the same space." I find that to be true. The other piece that comes up again and again is to surrender, to throw my arms in the air and say " I don't get it! What should I do? Show me the way, give me the strength.", and then to trust that the way will be made clear even if I don't see or understand for a long time to come. It is when we are faced with senselessness in life that we need faith the most, and it is also where it becomes most fragile. Surrender is the key, there can be no faith without surrender. I believe this state of faith is possible even if you are non theistic or atheist.
The other part is to take shelter amongst each other and in each others arms. The more we connect and extend ourselves with compassion and care the stronger we all grow. Even if we can't donate money or volunteer or even if we can't be at a loved one's side, we can all extend intentional compassion. We can all pray in whatever way that shows up for us. Praying is simply channelling our energy of consciousness to a specific intention. Even an atheist can pray. Of course this is my opinion and feel free to disagree. We make change and create healing better in community than in isolation. Let's lean on each other and help each other along.
On the sense side of the coin we can all do our part to support research that will perhaps someday end these kinds of senseless events. Give to organizations that promote cancer research and research on the brain and mental illness, which includes alternative therapies like yoga and meditation and beyond. Even with that though, death is part of life, and part of our journey is to confront that place beyond our understanding and no two journeys will unfold in the same way. Along our path we must go, one breath at a time, step by step, the road will be made clear and we can hold each others' hands on the way. "May the long time sun shine upon you."
Consider making a donation to The American Cancer Society or The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
I am sure I will have more to say on this topic as I process and meditate and pray. Your comments and input are appreciated. Namaste.