Saturday, April 19, 2014

Everyone Knows That

Yesterday, between bites at Five Guys, Graham said to me, “God knows about heaven.”
Surprised by the introduction of divinity into our conversation, I responded, “Well, tell me then. What is God?”
“The one who made all this stuff?” He responded matter-of-factly, emphasizing his point with a wave of his one, free unburgered hand.
“And where did God come from?” I asked accusingly, with an appropriate scowl and upraised eyebrow.
Staring blankly through me, he answered matter-of-factly, “No one. God just always was.” Adding with a tinge of exasperation, “Everyone knows that, dad.”

On this Easter weekend, which, in our culture, functions as a kind of celebration of fertility and/or reminder of grave-deep resurrections (and how are they different?), the ancients wondered, “If a man die, will he live again?” and we wonder, too. Many are certain that we live beyond this life and fall deeper into another life that cannot finally die, at least in the way that we understand dying. Still, I have seen that change is constant and suffering, too and that illusion often has headliner status in our comings and goings (or does it?). I am told that we ought to focus on The Oneness that keeps it all humming or trust in intimacies of the Spirit, comforted as we slide into inertia by an idea of the good or some permanence (and that’s a good thing?).

It is true that we originate in the earth but this so-called insignificant thing beneath our feet will one day dance over us, everyone of us, in every way. There is no question we return to dust and this fact alone is enough for many; a blessed sleep at last! No snooze button, no rising, rest evermore. Others find they can hardly bear this existence and so live daily to escape it, whether by chemical inducement, withdrawal and seclusion or through an intense immersion into pleasure or irrelevancy (and how are they different?). Long lines of those who preceded us thought deeply about all this, mused that with all the sweat and beauty that is most of what we call living, whether this one life couldn't be sufficient, fully enough for anyone. It is a good point and, as any parent knows, one long day at the carnival or amusement park is quite enough, thank you very much.

There are, of course, those among us who live to uncover Justice wherever she may be found and still others who walk humbly, reverently upon the planet (and thankfully there are times when these are the same people! We need more of them). This is because we admit to evil, that it is real and ever present and we are witness daily to much evidence of its cruelty. For example, many watched helplessly this week, as a beloved Wichita Lineman descended deeper into the shadows. All of us fumble impotently with dying and its younger incarnations such as disease and despair. Most of us will one day fade away... Can such a wrecked and ruined temple rise up, not to a former glory but to something More? Spring says yes. The heart hopes so. Still, as She said, “I do not know. I do not know.”

Among the unclaimed debris of devastations large and small, a few still ask where and whether real and lasting goodness may be found. For a remnant, there remains a confession of Hope, prayers directed outward, or inward (and how are they different?) and sometimes it is voiced through screams, -or whispered, or in the silence- but always with a view that the heart may remain open, that Love and its twin Mercy may endure to the end, unsoiled. Certainly not, I say! If love takes on all that is its opposite, all that is prodigal, all that is hopeless and lost, then it must surely be spoiled. But its "magic is deeper still" as Lewis wrote. All despairing must end with them, swallowed up in Them.

On this Easter weekend, Graham’s irresistible confidence has disarmed me. So I choose to stand with him. Everyone knows that.

"You cannot bury love; one day it will break forth with singing!"