...I've been in a world of confusion (apart from hurt) lately, and have successfully kept it locked away. Until, that is, a pretty darn wise dude who calls himself "nullmuse" left this as part of a comment in an earlier entry:
"I'm reminded of a quote from a guy I really admire, 'Pain is God's way of reminding you you're alive.'"
PARENTHETICAL ANYONE-MIGHT-BE-RIGHT NOTE: I am not laying a bad rap on anyone's religious beliefs in the following, whether they are Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Wiccans or practice Obeah. Who knows the Right Answer? None of us. Especially me.
God, prayer and religion in general are really turning into a big stew in my mind. I've always been relatively spiritual, but after a childhood in Episcopal-land and a later change to Judaism (a long story, too long for here), I settled down into what seemed to me a fairly decent way of looking at and living my life.
I've never given up certain basics, though. When someone is in pain, or in need of more help than humans can (or anyway do) offer, I feel no hesitation in sending up prayers, and never have.
Granted, they're nothing you'd find in the Book of Common Prayer, or even among the pleas sent up at "modern" happy-clappy, God-is-my-good-buddy churches. My feeling is that Who/whatever is Up There -- be it God, the Universe, you choose the name -- is pretty busy with the request line, so I try to keep it direct and simple. Saves me time, too, when there are multiple requests.
For example, a friend of mine fell ill last Saturday. That was one prayer. I drove her to Urgent Care Sunday morning. That required another. Subsequent events led me to add a few fresh and continuing requests for her well-being in other respects along the way. I'd like to believe they helped and are helping.
But then, I see the other side of things, which leaves me more than a little troubled.
The common thread among mainstream religions is that God wants us to embrace bad things that happen. I've heard Catholic priests say "offer your suffering to God" and rabbis say "the sun shines equally on the just and unjust." Nullmuse's quote was another in an endless series of these lines, as far as I can see.
To call God "merciful" on one hand and then have to see people going through undeserved trials and unendurable pain does not add up.
And yes, I include myself. Too much of my life during the past decade-plus has been a horror story. I've spared you many details, for which you may thank me very much.
I've asked for some relief here and there, and I know some of you good people have done the same on my behalf. Perhaps you are comfortable with that old "the Lord works in mysterious ways" bit, and at one time, I was too.
I have seen people prosper who appear to have devoted their lives to crushing others' spirits, have seen kind, loving people whose worst crime was killing insects with the windshields of their cars drink themselves to death, commit suicide, or simply give up, and end their lives as soulless husks, unloved and unlovable.
I'm not saying everything needs to be hunky-dory all the time, you know. But people need a break once in a while, and some I know just aren't getting one.
To be fair, I've also seen a lot of genuinely wonderful people live great lives, too.
But all this is tearing at me these days. If I am one of those who is for some reason meant to live a life of unhappiness, I'd like to know so I can cut the farce short. Likewise, if better things really do lie ahead, I think it's be a small kindness if I got a taste while I can still enjoy them.
I'm not really into mysteries, you know. But there are days when I come close to believing that the whole notion of a personal-type God -- and, for that matter, prayer -- is something our long-ago ancestors came up with to keep people sedate and happy, even when they shouldn't be.
Yeah, I'm feeling agnostic tonight. Bit of a heathen, I guess.
I'll still be sending up a few prayers, though. Just in case. I'd love to see that turn out to be a correct and effective decision.
2 hours ago