I picked up this book at the library today and was struck by a passage. I thumped the book with my hand and said out loud, "This is why Madeleine L'Engle is my favorite author!" She has a tell-it-as-it-is way of writing with no excuses. She writes what's in her mind without need for approval because she already approves of herself and knows herself and what she believes.
|Dragons in the Waters by Madeleine L'Engle|
Aunt Leonis was, he supposed, teaching him about both life and death; she had taught him how to be at least a little less enraged at the thought of death in a world created by a loving God.
After his mother's death the local minister, Dr. Curds, had come to call, and had immediately alienated Simon by talking of this premature death as the will of God.
Aunt Leonis looked down her long, aristocratic nose at the middle-aged man in his dark suit. "I wonder how it is, Dr. Curds, that you are so certain that you understand the will of God?"
Dr. Curds looked at her with patient gentleness. "You must not fight the Lord, my dear Miss Phair. Trust in his will, and he will send you the Comforter."
"Thank you. I believe that he has already done so. I also believe that my niece's illness and death were not God's will. I doubt very much if he looks with approval on such suffering. It seems to me more likely that it has something to do with man's arrogance and error. However, being mortal and finite, I do not presume to understand God's will, so I am not certain. "
Dr. Curds murmured something about it being part of God's plan.
Aunt Leonis replied, "It may be part of God's plan that a young woman should suffer and die, or it may be the work of the enemy."
"Don't you believe in the devil, Dr. Curds? I do."
Dr. Curds murmured again, "The Church in these more enlightened times . . . the devil seems a little old-fashioned."
Aunt Leonis raised her left eyebrow. "I haven't noticed many signs of enlightenment. And I am undoubtedly old-fashioned. But I do believe that God can come into the evil of this world, and redeem it, and make it an indispensable part of the pattern which includes every star and every speck of hydrogen dust in the universe-and even you, Dr. Curds."
She put into words something that's been bothering me in the back of my mind for a while. I have thought many times that God must look down at this world and cry every day because of the way people treat each other here on Earth. Yes, there is much goodness in the world, probably more than bad, but the misery of so many is nothing to be ignored.
Is it God's will that people suffer so much? It's hard to believe that he "...looks with approval on such suffering. It seems to me more likely that it has something to do with man's arrogance and error." It's hard to believe that God causes the suffering in our lives. It makes sense though that "...God can come into the evil of this world, and redeem it, and make it an indispensable part of the pattern..." He does not stop all suffering, but he can redeem those who suffer and make their experiences part of the pattern of the universe so that it need not be in vain.
Each action done in this world has a consequence, good or bad depending on the action. Each person will eventually be held responsible for all their works. This is a happy thought when I think of all the injustice done to me and all the innocent people. It is a sobering thought when I think of all the consequences of my actions. Some actions I know have brought joy and happiness as consequences, but all my actions? No. I do believe that I bring more positive than negative into the world, and that does bring me relief.
Whatever reason I don't have my firstborn son with me in this world will never make up for not having him alive. People tell me there is a reason and someday I'll know it and understand. I don't want to understand because that will feel like accepting that it was okay to happen, and it was not okay to happen. I would rather have him with our family through the ups and downs, the good and the bad, than to not have him here.
It is a trial that will stay in my family's life forever. I find it hard to believe that God would cause that much sorrow in my life, not matter what lessons I would learn from it. Would God refrain from stopping it happening? Yes, he obviously did, but cause it? No. It reminds me of a line from Shakespeare's Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth, (my friend), Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
God is there to help us through our trials, not to cause them. "..[B]eing mortal and finite, I do not presume to understand God's will, so I am not certain...." but to me God is a bringer of peace and love not anger and hurt.
In her mermoir, "Two-Part Invention", Madeleine L'Engle writes the following.
At bedtime, in a cold, strange room, I read Evening Prayer. Read the first Psalm for the evening of the fourth day: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Exquisitely painful timing. the psalmist's words. Jesus' words. I feel anguished. I feel that I have been kicked in the stomach and the wind knocked out of me. My spirit hurts.
I am grateful that Jesus cried out those words, because it means that I need never fear to cry them out myself. I need never fear, nor feel any sense of guilt, during the inevitable moments of forsakenness. They come to us all. They are part of the soul's growth.
Those words have brought me much comfort in times of need. I do feel that God forsook me by not saving my baby. But I know that I am not alone in that feeling. Jesus, a perfect man, felt the same way. I am not alone in being forsaken nor in feeling the pain of it. Why should I have a better life than a perfect man?
On a different topic, but from the same passage, "I haven't noticed many signs of enlightenment." We live in supposedly enlightened times, and many people claim to be enlightened, but I see more confusion and mistaken thoughts. The truth of the world is inside you, and you are the only one who can judge the truth for yourself. When you yearn for the truth, it can be found deep inside and upwards.