Sunday, January 17, 2010


It is Sunday, and churches in Haiti are holding services. I have just returned from my church in Vermont. I opened my wallet and all that was in there was a single dollar bill. This is what was left after we bought groceries this week, put money away for dog food, got my husband a haircut, washed the car, and put money in the pledge envelope. We were encouraged to give to a church relief fund above and beyond our pledge money. I took a plain envelope and wrote on it "Haiti" and put my one dollar in it.

I read this in an article on line;

At the cathedral, the Rev. Toussaint described his own near-miraculous survival.

"I watched the destruction of the cathedral from this window," he said, pointing to a window in what remains of the archdiocese office. "I am not dead because God has a plan for me."

"What happens is a sign from God, saying that we must recognize his power - we need to reinvent ourselves,"

Others, however, were angry.

"It's a catastrophe and it is God who has put this upon us," said Jean-Andre Noel, 39-year-old computer technician "Those who live in Haiti need everything. We need food, we need drink, we need medicine. We need help."

I don't know where God was in the earthquake. I do not believe that God punished the Haitians. I do believe that all the deaths from the earthquake, falling ceilings and falling walls of concrete, were innocent deaths. God kills the innocent and the good alike. He kills through cancer, he kills through earthquakes, he kills through automobile accidents. He killed off a portion of my brain through a brain disease. I certainly did not get a mental illness because I was a bad person. I do believe that the mental illness challenged me, and perhaps, I have learned from it. I have learned from being powerless and in pain. The survivors of the earthquake are now all learning through their struggle to stay alive. Their courage is tested. Their ability to do good or evil is tested. Their faith is tested. My mental illness tests me every day. I believe in a God that challenges and tests. And yes, I suppose, I worship a God who has the capacity to cause great suffering.

This does not mean that I believe in a God who does not love or have compassion. I believe that God gives his companionship through all tests and challenges, and that this companionship brings healing. I feel loved by God. I feel that in his eyes I am special, even though in the eyes of society I am weak and ill. I am one of the meek who Jesus had special words for.

Sometimes, when I am feeling blessed, having a roof over my head and food in my refrigerator and people who love me, sometimes I get scared that it will all be taken away from me. If you believe in a God, like I do, then you feel that your life is somewhat being carried or being guided. I suppose that the priest who lived, and thus feels that his life was spared for a greater purpose, definitely has faith in his God. Not faith because he lived. He doesn't believe in God because God spared him. He believes in God because he believes that a greater power is shaping his life. He knows very well, in his gut, that he could have easily been killed. But he attributes the fact that he lives not to luck, but to God's choice. God makes some choices, like the deaths of children, that are almost unfathomable to the parents of those children. Yet all life must come to an end. It is just that some endings are bitterly too soon for those who stay behind and survive. For those who die, their end may have been decided before their birth. I certainly believe that my illness was genetic, and decided, coded in my DNA, before my birth.

I feel that it is God's choice that I have my blessings, but I know, in my gut, that it could be God's choice to take my blessings away and test me a little more. I dearly hope, that should I be tested, I will be worthy and graceful. I could get a physical disease. My house could burn down. My husband could die. If God were to take my blessings away I would probably cry a great deal. I might take prescription drugs that would lift me up and numb me. Currently I am probably already taking prescription drugs that are lifting me up and numbing me. My anti-depressants and anti-anxiety and anti-psychotics. I am such a fragile creature that psychiatric medicine is trying to keep me alive. The drugs enter my life as good people would. As good people are like angels walking this earth, so the psychiatric drugs are like angels ministering to the suffering.

If a void entered my life I might turn to prescribed, psychiatric drugs, or, I might pray a little more. I could foresee that if the degree of suffering increased, so would the fervor of my prayer. I would pray until my ego was obliterated and all that remained was the mental ground upon which God makes his presence known. If I suffered more, I would die more, so that the God in me could better live. I do foresee in my life more tests, more challenges. Old age brings infirmities. Nothing remains the same forever.

Already, this last year, one route of my survival was threatened. My anti-depressant Prozac lost its effectiveness. And this led directly to two things. One was to my joining a church. The other was to find a therapist. I had gone about three years without a therapist. Didn't need one. Had gone for about 6 years without going to church. Didn't need a church. But when the anti-depressant failed, and nothing as good medically could be found, I reached out - to God and to my fellow human being. While the Prozac was failing I became very suicidal. Now, I sometimes feel despair, but I am relatively free of suicidal fantasies.

I doubt people who have survived the earthquake in Haiti will be killing themselves. They may die from thirst, hunger, and exposure, but they are trying their best to survive. Maybe some will be so grief stricken and traumatized that they will take their own life. I hope the help agencies that are raising money get aid to the nation to rebuild. I hope the UN can do something. I hope the people of Haiti continue to cooperate with one another, in brotherhood, and that the place does not descend into lawlessness. For those that live, I have a prayer, that may seem like a strange prayer. I hope that they feel as the priest does, that their life was spared for a purpose. That they are the agents of goodness and change. For those that live, I hope that they can value their lives and not give in to despair. If they must suffer, and they will suffer more, I hope that this does not make them turn away from life and God. God does not reward the good and punish the evil in obvious, self-evident ways. He is almost, but not quite,beyond our ability to understand.

Those that hate God do not understand God. God is not human. He is life, but he is also something which is beyond life and exists in the realm of death. There is the life that our senses observe; taste, touch, hear, see, smell - all in time that flows from past to future, all in a pattern that is comprehensible. But there is a curtain that separates the logical phenomena that we observe from something that is beyond logic, beyond rational, that is supernatural. Oh, I believe that the supernatural is real. I've had too many close encounters with it. I've heard stories from people who have had close encounters with it. And there are famous prophets from history whose consciousness expanded and touched the supernatural. Buddha was one, Christ was another. To me these people were not crazy, they were instead super sane. They felt God so keenly that they transcended their own humanness. They moved away from being human when they moved toward God.

If death has any meaning it is to love one another better, and closer, and with more passion. The meaning of the death in Haiti is not that God has turned his back on humanity, or that he is vindictive and punitive. Death in Haiti is not proof that God does not exist. Death and suffering is never proof that God does not exist. Those that think this way are merely hurt and angry. I've been there. I've been full of hurt and anger and outrage against God. It is merely a place to rest, a temporary attitude on a much longer path of evolving consciousness. I should know, I had my mind taken away from me. This is not quite as drastic as having your life taken away from you but it is close. Almost every day my mind fails me and I fall into symptoms of mental illness. I have reason to hate God. But I don't. And I am coming to believe, that the more I love God, the better I am able to weather the mental illness. I'm not crazy in love with God, my feelings are mixed and tepid, but there is a direction, slowly, I'm being pushed along toward.

I have a feeling that when I'm a little old lady, probably frail and alone, me and God will be friends at last.

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