Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey, I mean Jack and Margaret's Mom
I was spending time with a friend last week and we were talking about Jack's accident. I asked her why people think I have so much faith when I feel as if I have far less than I've ever had in my life. She responded, "It pours out of you, Anna. It's just there." Hmmm. Anger? I can see that pouring out of me right now. Disappointment? Got it. But faith? I'm not so sure.
I've been thinking about this a lot, because it is undeniable that Jack's death is having a profound spiritual effect on people by challenging them to look outside the comforts and conflicts of middle class suburban life and ask questions like, "Why did this happen?" "What does this mean to ME?" "When the body dies, is that IT?" "How does a family get through this?" "Why do bad things happen to good people?" and even, "Why do GOOD things happen to BAD people?" It is having this effect on me, too, just with a few more curse words thrown in.
Through this blog I've been honored to share many of the amazing signs of comfort from God that have followed Jack's death. Blog readers have graciously shared their own. These strange occurrences have again and again shown us that love does not die. That Jack's soul lives on. That what I said I believed...wow...is really true!
When I think of Jack's impact, and its spiritual emphasis, I think of prayer after prayer uttered in love and despair on our behalf since September, many from folks who wouldn't consider themselves to be "pray-ers" at all. Babies baptized. Young people looking for more than just transitory joy. Parents looking at their kids as gifts, not just as "gifted." People returning to church, or even going for the first time. Hurt, disillusioned souls being willing to open their hearts, just a little bit more, to a God they felt had let them down or deserted them. People receiving comfort at their own loved one's deaths with the promise of "something more." People wanting "what we have" even when we have lost so much.
When asked by someone why she had started attending church and reading the Bible, a dear friend of mine answered, "Why, Jack, of course!"
So... many, many people have felt drawn closer to God because of Jack, a boy who believed that, "Nothing is Impossible with God." For that I'm awestruck and grateful.
On the other hand, there are a lot of folks who have been thrust into a spiritual CRISIS over Jack's death. I get this too. It may sound so crazy, since terribly tragic and unfair things happen every second of every day and on a much larger scale, but "Why, God? Why Jack?" has been a common refrain.
My favorite Bible verse since I was a preteen has been, "I believe. Help my unbelief," and that is the tension or balance I have lived with every single day, although much more so since September 8th.
I think about how hard it is for me to take communion or to worship at church right now. For me, there's just one broken body I think about these days. Oh how broken. And not even broken to save the world.
So while there is hope and comfort and mystery and a peace that passes all understanding, there's also a profound sense of confusion, disappointment, and a need to realign what what we thought we believed, to what we believe. To hang in there in a life of faith, despite a lack of understanding and acceptance. Despite the trauma of going to a Memorial Day festival surrounded by every 7th and 8th grade boy in the tri-state area.
Closer to God/farther than ever. "I believe/ Help my unbelief." Comfort/despair.
Then thing is, I guess I CAN see what my friend sees, that even in this disappointment, there is some faith. My profound disappointment has an OBJECT-- an object big enough to handle my questions and my disappointment. A God who graciously gives me comfort even while withholding the answer to,"Why Jack?"
And here's the thing. I know I'm his mom saying this, but Jack matters. Not more than someone else. Not less. I am very fortunate for this blog, this forum, which not every bereaved parent has, in order to see the difference Jack makes, that each life makes.
And if in that mattering, or counting for something, we are driven to our knees in seeking God, or even driven to shaking our fists at him in anger, then that is an act of faith. And I think Jack would like that.