It is easy to be cliché when it comes to life.  We see so much suffering every day.  It makes us calloused, scarred, and eventually it robs us of our compassion.  Robs us of our empathy.  Recently, with Haiti, our senses have been inundated with the horror and suffering.  In our world, if we see that level of destruction or pain on a regular basis, we cannot stay connected emotionally for long. 

We would rather run away from this experience.  The western world innoculates us from connection.  We spend so much time and effort to disconnect ourselves from pain.  Yet, in many areas of the world, there is a constant reminder of suffering, war, and the brokenness of our world.  The closer to home that it happens, the more likely we are to be impacted.  But, if distant across the big pond, we are less likely to be able to be moved. 

Right now, many people after the disasters in Haiti are examining.  We all struggle with the questions of what to do.  Some are overwhelmed with the task at hand.  Most of us touched by this are also examining the utter fragility of life itself.  How easy it is to suffer, how easy it is have life taken in a moment. 

My hopes in this moment are that we might take the the opportunity to start to take stock… my prayers are that perhaps we can break through the anesthesia in our world and actually be vulnerable enough to have to change.  Attitudes, policies, values, motivations……   One of the biggest things that has changed in the aftermath of an earthquake is that people don’t see division, they see connection.  May that connection extend our hearts enough to break the cycle of indifference.

For me, fragile is the way that life seems to keep us from moving forward.  Be it a non-divine interference, or more appropriately ourselves, things love to make their way in front of what we might accomplish in our lives.  My mother is a great example right now.  She is slowly losing her ability to remember things, she’s regressing emotionally, and has all the signs of Alzheimer’s.  She also smokes, which is unhealthy enough, but she had most of a lung removed 10 years ago and thus she has been actively and deliberately (two different facets of the same process) trying to end her life because of things that she cannot be forgiven for having done.  At least, that’s what she believes. 

Right now, she is in the other room working on a missions display and has something to shoot for… and most of it is probably in vain.  There are times when I pray that she can go back to Uganda so that she can simplify her life and will be able to make the most of what time she has left to be useful.  There are other times I just want her to go back, because I cannot bear to watch her fall apart in front of me.  There are even those thoughts that I am scared to admit because if I say them out loud it makes me realise how cold and calloused I am.  She needs to go, so that maybe I can go too.  Until she is able to go to Uganda, my hope of moving forward is shut down.  And that’s where my numbness comes from.  That’s where this world has gotten to me.

My mother seems to have been told all of her life that she is worthless, useless, and has just existed… not lived, existed.  She is broken and a hollow soul most of the time.  Being in the United States is killing her, and by default me because she’s staying with me.  But, when she speaks of serving those folks in Kasese, there is a life and a joy that she hasn’t had in her life for as long as I have been around.  She finally has purpose, even though at every turn she seems to be doing everything to cause it to fall apart.  Her heart is scarred too, and those whispers that tell her to smoke or do things that harm her chances of being able to serve… they kill her by her own hand.  They slay me too, as I realise that she is able to do something that God doesn’t seem to want me to be able to do… to go, and that is threatened every time she does something that is contrary.

Why don’t people make the most of their chances?  Me included…

As for my soul that aches, I don’t have any answers.  But there is a sense that we only get so many chances to overcome the past.  My past is fraught with disasters and broken hearts.  I know that I only get maybe one or two more chances to move forward in my life, if that… God I want to step forward.  I too, have bought into the misbelief that I have nothing left to offer.  My biggest hope is that I might be able to serve our Lord in some appreciable way.  The sad part is that with the number of gifts that God infused into my flawed person, He could and did for a good while use me for just about anything…  I have wanted to hide for so long because I feel I am no use anymore.  The things I either did deliberately, or because I couldn’t care about the consequences haunt me to this day in such a visceral way, I shake thinking about them.  My soul doesn’t believe anymore.  The essence of whatever might have been good and godly in me has such a stain…

Sadly, whenever we hurt as a society, we get to the point where we look anywhere else but at the real problem… being fallen and broken.  We would rather blame government instead of personal responsibility.  We blame God instead of a disaster.   We blame others instead of ourselves.  We look back and wonder how we’ve strayed so far from our ideals, how people are just taking advantage of us, misusing gifts an opportunities…  we think that if we were to go back in time things could get better, if we could just go back to older time morality…  Our older time morality was just as flawed, because we were just as flawed.  Our world was just as broken and messed up then… We just know more about how messed up things are now.  And we ache.  So we do anything we can to disguise that ache and hide it and run away…  How fragile our world is when something can cause it to all fall apart with the merest blow of a wind, rumble of the ground, the rise of a faulty concept, and the inactivity of a person’s heart…