Southern Views

Everything looked so small from the great height of the aerial view of the tsunami, as it made its way through the city, carrying much of it in its wake. I could not believe that I was watching the destruction and so much loss of life as it was happening. I had to keep reminding myself that this is not a movie, but in the massive amount of debris were people dying horribly and others watching as their possessions and perhaps loved ones were being swept away. I saw trucks pushed off the highway, and then two other very large trucks trapped with waters swirling on both sides; the commentator said as the filming passed over “That perhaps they have a chance of survival.” How tiny everything looked as the waters continued on their journey, yet so many dying or trapped. It almost looked like a toy city being washed away by high tide, put there by children.

(Photo by ecstaticist)

On the morning of the earthquake, people getting up going about their business, then suddenly the earthquake and soon after, the water…..everything swept away. From one moment to the next, everything lost forever, buried under tons of debris. I will not be surprised (but happy if I am wrong) if the number of dead is way beyond the 10,000 now being predicted. Tragedy brings us together, mourning over the suffering and loss of so many. The media makes it even more personal, though it can also be so overwhelming that the emotions simply shut down.

Each person deals with it the best way they can. We live in a world that is unstable and any stability that we project onto it is just a way for us to be able to get up in the morning and do what must be done. Events like this bring to mind how vulnerable we all are and in fact, everyday, many do come to that reality. Be it through accident, disease or the sudden loss of one dearly loved. Or like now; the destructions of cities being swept away as if they were (again) just toys placed there by children.

I don’t blame God, or rage at fate, it is just life, like the fallen tower that Jesus talked about in the Gospel. One moment people waking by the tower, then it fell and they were gone. Yes, just the world we live in. God is, we are, things crumble and fall down, the center does not hold, we suffer and all of us will die; yet God is. I can’t think of anything else to say. In good times, in the years of plenty, in our good health and happiness, God is. When the Sun shines on the thankful and the unthankful, well God is.

It is a drama, this life, with no guarantees from one moment to the next, so we continue, while I believe, we are all enfolded by God’s love. It is just, that God is not Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy…. no God is real, just as life is real, existence is real and also most importantly that love is real. Love most importantly. Our hearts respond to suffering and we long to help, God hands become ours, our hearts allow God to flow into this broken angst filled world…..yes we are also God’s smile, tears, and embraces given freely to those in pain.

We pray (those that have faith, and perhaps even those who don’t as well), for most who pray long enough and deep enough, know of the essential unity of our race and that at the level of prayer, we truly represent one another as we lift up those in pain, the dead and the dying and those that are in despair. For love is what we are, underneath the fear and anxious concern that causes the soul to cringe and forget that it is made in the image and likeness of God.

What we take with us

Things seem so solid,
so secure,
we plan,
as we should,
and live,
as if things will remain as they are now,
what else can we do?

Yet it is all an illusion,
we are mortal,
fragile,
here for a moment
then gone,

What do we do
with that moment
is what is important
and must be faced
in all its urgency.

For one day
all moments end
and our illusion
gone like smoke,
all that is left
is the love we take with us,
all else is burned away,
and if there is no love,
well what a loss,
for there will only by ashes.

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Mark Dohle

Mark Dohle

I am 62 years old and have lived in the Atlanta area since 1971.  I am Catholic and my faith is important to me, yet as I age the mystery continues to deepen, so I read broadly and try to keep things somewhat open ended. I work with the aged and the dying. I was in the Navy for four years and I guess I am life of center when it comes to politics, but not too far left. Actually, I am kind of a political moron.

I am the third of  11 children; ten still alive, one died in in 1958, three days after birth.

One Comment
  1. Mark,
    For a moment, as I read your words, I felt the deep anguish of those watching ones. My anguish lead to prayer, a listening kind of prayer, not a wish list kind. I, too believe that God is and if God is, God’s ways are so far above anything we can imagine or understand. How dare we sit in judgment of God’s ways and motives. Did God create the earthquake? Did God create the Tsunami? Did God create the physical principles by which the earth runs? Is God even aware of the plight of humanity. Does God even give a rip?

    Each of us must arrive at our own conclusions about the truth. I believe in a personal, benevolent God, who is intimately aware of all that is and deeply caring for all of the creation. Believing that I can not condemn God for the natural order of things. When trouble comes, as it does to each of us, my experience with God has taught me that God is with me to sustain me. My faith gives me the strength to endure and that is what a great deal of life is about, endurance.

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