Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Is Anybody There?

One of my favorite musicals since I was in middle school is 1776, by Sherman Edwards. The tunes were good, but more importantly, the book was exceptional and made history musically engaging.

I was thinking of one of the key songs, as sung by John Adams, well before he was President.
Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?
They want to me to quit; they say
John, give up the fight
Still to England I say
Good night, forever, good night!
For I have crossed the Rubicon
Let the bridge be burned behind me
Come what may, come what may
The croakers all say we'll rue the day
There'll be hell to pay in fiery purgatory
Through all the gloom, through all the gloom
I see the rays of ravishing light and glory!
Is anybody there? Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?
I see fireworks! I see the pageant and
Pomp and parade
I hear the bells ringing out
I hear the cannons roar
I see Americans - all Americans
Free forever more
How quiet, how quiet the chamber is
How silent, how silent the chamber is
Is anybody there? Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

These are the words of an inspired leader. He clearly sees us in a new place, a separate place, not because he lusts for fireworks, pomp, and parade. He sees those as by-products of his dream that all Americans can be free of the political bondage and yoke of Britain.

But it doesn't come easy. And in the still quiet room, he ponders if anyone is listening. Or worse, is anybody even there.

Existential thoughts such as these come across my mind often during Lent. Are we seeking freedom from our mortal pains in futility? Why can't we solve our problems with poverty, homelessness, addiction, and so on? Is anybody there? Does anybody care?

I'm not so arrogant to think that I've got the only solutions, or that I'm the only one who cares. The character of John Adams in this play may seem so, but I think most people know others who do indeed care. But it all seems so intractable at times.

And it leads me to wonder how God can allow such pain to exist? Doesn't He care? Isn't She there?

I'm fairly certain that whether these questions can get answered isn't up to God. It's up to me. I think there might be three steps for moving past the psychic trauma caused by dwelling on these questions.

1. Trust God.

Questioning God is an easy past-time. It certainly is normal to doubt our leaders, parents, bosses, and other figures of authority. During Lent, when all these thoughts foam up in my head, I have to be able to say, "Despite it all, I trust God." It's comforting, relaxing us like possibly the atheistic opiates are thought to work. But it moves further than that to me. Even if God doesn't exist, my trust in something calms me and strengthens me to sally forth. One cannot trust and be strengthened in a non-being. So regardless of whether God exists or cares, I march trusting because it's without doubt better than the alternative to me.

2. Allow God into our lives

This is actually harder than it seems. Once you trust God, you have to hand over the keys and let God drive. Control freaks like me hate handing over the keys. It's my car/life and I can drive it better than anyone else can, even if they have better driver's training scores than I got. It happens all the time in our lives and yet we forget that by building barriers to God, we aren't really trusting God. We're lamenting at something that we're causing. Lent reminds me of this and allows me to focus on ways of creating space for God in my life.

3. Waiting for God

Lastly, in that control freak way that bugs me most, I need to remember to get past the question of God, I have to be willing to wait. Waiting isn't easy for most. I get nastiest, rudest, and meanest when I'm forced to wait. And it's in that failing that I am pushing away God further and further away. I pray hardest at Lent to have the patience in life and so as to give God time to work on me and those around me.

My challenge at Lent is to allow these questions and steps to flow through me, with me, and beyond me as I pray on my journey.

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