Southern Beliefs

sea of sorrowI would suppose that as time moves forward, we seem to learn more and more about who we are and the ‘why’ of how we often do things. In the past the vast majority of mankind needed to spend so much time to fight for simple survival that not much energy was left over to deal with some of the deeper issues of our race. In first world countries, many people are more educated and have some time to be able to ponder our inner life. We have philosophers, psychologist, writers of novels and movies, that mostly deal with our struggles, not just for survival, but searches the inner realms to discover that vast domain of past memories, wounds, love and joys, that not only form each as individuals but also as a species. For our prejudices, fears and outright hatreds are passed on from generation to generation leading to great suffering for all.

Those who are sexually abused as children often become abusers themselves. Innocent boy and girls brought up where physical abuse was played often get caught up in the same dynamic passing on the pain and sorrow. It is as if we carry the weight of the unfinished business of our ancestors. Perhaps the whole world an arena where this is played out, seen my billions on our TV screens. We often look to other parts of the world where suffering is lived out for all to see, a stable for the evening news. Yet in the homes of neighbors with their fine lawns and expensive cars, suffering just as intense is lived out on a daily basis. The very poor, the filthy rich and the majority in the middle, often have worlds of inner pain that only alcohol, drugs, sex and perhaps the pursuit of the good things of life can cover up. Yet when alone, by oneself, the pain or some symptom of that will arise. So best to stay active, away from the inner quagmire; one could drown, or so it is feared to be so by many.

We each have our burden to carry that will not go away, it is part of who we are, controls us in ways that we do not understand and if a way to deal with it not found, only deeper chaos will occur; developing slowly over the years, a life that will pass on what was not learned from the past. Unless the cycle can be broken and a little light and healing will come into the world, which does happen more often than would be thought possible.

There are many ways to cope. These often evolve into serious addictions that only lead to further problems, not only for the one addicted but also for those who live with them. Who can often be addicts themselves, and yes the children often bearing the brunt of it all, being formed in mommy’s and daddy’s image and likeness.

The world is drowning in violence, physical and sexual abuse, wars, and yes slavery is still alive and strong in much of the world. Girls and boys kidnapped and auctioned off as sex slaves, only to be discarded or killed when they outlive their use. Those who survive, just imagine what kind of burden of pain and shame that they must bear, having to deal with years of abuse, pain and degradation. What becomes of them?

In my own soul I see what I am also capable of, which is not often pretty. Men are built to be warriors, we fight, defend. We can shut down our emotions so we can do what we are built to do. Yet even when fighting is needed men can often go over the edge in time of war, committing deeds that in their ‘normal’ life they would never think of committing. Murders, torture, rape, the list I am sure is longer than that. Yet when these same men come home they are tortured by what they did. I understand, for I could easily do the same thing if I was in their place. For I believe that we are all dangerous.

Yet the very fact that these men can be bothered is a sign of hope. For many seek a way out, to find healing and forgiveness. Many spend years seeking council, studying, praying for healing from their past and in so doing change, stop some of their cycles and also help others in the meantime. Some men seeing the harm they do to their wives and children seek help, not nearly enough, but enough to give hope. Drug addicts get help, then go out to help others find liberation. Women who are in abusive relationship leave and start a new life, again not nearly enough but still it give one hope.

I have my own inner web of pain, anger, rage and sorrow that I am trying to deal with. I came to me yesterday that here I am 60 years old and I don’t think I have ever asked anyone for help, at least not in any serious way. I just did not know how. I always thought that if I studied enough, or prayed enough, things will work out. Well some things did, but I got stuck in others and so now for the first time in my life I have asked for help. I guess I was like an apple that was ready to dropped, I am glad there were those who caught me and are now helping me in ways that I never thought possible.

I think the only way to break the chains of the past is through understanding and then forgiveness, for me it is the only way. So each is on their path, yet none are alone, for amidst all the hells we have to slough through, we are accompanied. Faith does not give simple answers; it just says that we are companioned, upheld by an unseen presence, yet loving, as a Christian I call this presence Jesus the Christ. Yet the Logos is present in all hearts, living, feeling, tenting with us. So for a man of faith there is always hope and the ability to slowly grow in love and compassion not only for myself but for others.

Bent down

The soul bent down with misery and pain,
a life of struggle unending,
alone it seems
yet that reality is a lie,
for each upheld by a presence unseen,
yes held and loved,
sad there are no easy answers
for our road is rocky
filled with thorns along the way,
yet also love,
lightening all of our loads,
for in giving we receive in return
and grace
well it is there always
for no matter how dark the night,
nor the depth of pain,
nothing can separate us from the one who made us,
tents with us,
uplifts us,
and when the dark door of death beckons,
awaits us.

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.