Thursday, April 28, 2011

A New Pattern

So much loss. The devastation in Japan. Tornadoes down south. Multiple fires set in a neighborhood an hour or so away. Even within the two communities I live in daily there has been great loss. In just the past week a man who has pinch-hit for me in the classroom lost his wife--she died unexpectedly of meningitis. A colleague of mine then unexpectedly lost her mother. Another tragedy befell us next when a 20 year old mother of a fourteen month old baby, a recent graduate of our local high school, disappeared. After a grueling four day search, her body was found in a pond.

Before these losses mentioned above occurred, since last September I personally dealt with four other deaths, each one touching me in different ways. My parish priest died. I lost my 17 year old dog. My Mom's best friend died. Then a former student who was healthy and joyful and just sitting in my classroom last June passed away.

Why so much loss in such a short period of time? I don't understand. I am trying to make sense of it all but I can't. I try not to dwell on sadness and I know that death is a natural part of life but I am hoping it's time for a new pattern. I'm afraid that if I took one of those paper and pen stress tests, the ones that ask you to tally 10 points for various factors in your life that you have experienced in the last 12 months, I'd be told to get myself to an emergency room pronto! My eyes are puffy and bloodshot often. I've gained back some of the weight I had lost last summer. I have spied a few more wrinkles. I'm sleep deprived. I'm clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth. And although I am very blessed, I cannot brush this all aside. It has taken its toll on me, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

But I have to say that despite not understanding any of this loss, it has not crushed my spirituality. In fact, I think my faith has been strengthened in the past 8 months. I'm thinking of poor Job from the Bible now. But I'm daring not to speak out, "What else have you got for me Lord?" as I do not want to know. I am simply agreeing with Mother Theresa who once said, "I know that God won't give me anything I cannot handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much".

When I lost my baby in a miscarriage back in 1998 I named the baby Joy. There's a fuller story behind that fact which I'll share on another day, but I turn to Joy now for the reminder that from loss comes true joy. I lost Joy and gained my son Paul who was born just 13 months later. So I end tonight's blog post wanting to make emerge a new pattern of hope and joy. I'll continue with prayer but I am also going to physically do something every day to bring about more joy for myself and for others. I challenge each of you reading this to do the same. We can't avoid loss, but we can control what others can gain from our positive love-driven efforts.

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