I read today that the Archbishop of Canterbury doubted the presence of God in the days following the Paris attacks. I understand his thought:
“Where is God in all of this?”
For me, “God” is not in some far off place but in the heart. The more I feel my pain and the pain of humankind, the more present “God” is. Not many of us can sit with our pain. We either ignore it, medicate it or become overwhelmed by it at some point.
I am not immune to the challenges of sitting with my pain.
I went to a street art event Thursday night. It was a paint jam and with my reflective mood, I really did not want to go to a bar and party. But I had promised the organiser to help promote it and so I went and took some photos towards the end of the night. The winning team had depicted some images of a graveyard and when the winner was announced, I heard the most chilling phrase: “Death wins.”
The messages we consume are essential to monitor when we are in a raw state and a few messages like the one above slipped through my Facebook hiatus and I slipped into despair, yesterday.
I was overwhelmed.
Eventually, I managed to get myself out of my house. As I stepped into the bitterly cold air, I felt my spirits lifted. Nature was kissing me and telling me that I was not alone. Death had not won – I was alive.
I headed to a place of solace – the art gallery. I visited Cy Twombly’s massive Bacchus paintings. They are big and bright and red and can be read as either the blood of violence and of death or the blood of love and of life. What message we take away is up to us.
When I came home last night, a friend had posted a video of the Samaritans helping the refugees in Lesbos in Greece. It was a joy to see an uplifting message: We can make a difference with love, and if we can’t be there in person, we can support those who are.
I am grateful for that message, which I reposted for my friends. And, I am grateful to see that my friend is focussing on the good and is inspiring others. I am grateful that in my despair, my friend Ao had earlier reminded me, in an instant message chat from the other side of the planet, that we must be part of the love movement. We may not be able to change the outer world from a distance, but we do change it from within.
Our oneness includes both pain and joy. Sitting in the pain and recognising it as part of our Oneness is difficult and it is easy to get overwhelmed. I did well for nearly the whole week, but then I crashed.
I think a tide has turned for those initially overwhelmed and many of my most cherished friends are posting messages of love, peace and reconciliation. And that is the beauty of the circle: they are now providing me with the light at the end of the tunnel so that I can come out of being overwhelmed and simply sit again with the pain and honour it as our common wound. Sitting with and loving that pain is my service and in time, with the help of all those in the “love movement,” it will be healed.
Where is God in all of this?
God is in the support of friends, at just the right time. God is in the art that reminds us that the choice of our spiritual and day to day life is firmly in our hands. God is in the wind that kisses the face and is a reminder of life. God is in the love and in the spreading of that love.
And yes, God is in that pain.
It remains for me to turn it to you, now.
For what are you grateful, today?