Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sunrise, Sunset...Happiness and tears

I can hardly believe its been a month since I last wrote.  The Pike River Mine tragedy with the loss of 29 men has shocked the country and swept through our hearts filling us with compassion, sorrow, hope, pain, loss, and the terrible finality of death.

In this last month there has also been the brutal attack on Christians in the Cathedral in Baghdad with the loss of 57 lives and many more injured and the most recent horrible savage slaying of the elderly Christian couple in their Baghdad home last Sunday simply because they were Christian.

Advent has arrived again also, where we travel the journey of remembrance into the mystery of what it means to be human and filled with desire and need and to place that into the context of the wonder of the birth of Christ, the gift of Salvation and the promise of eternity lived in the presence of the all loving all holy God. Tragedy and hope juxtaposed graphically in time and written large anew in our day when we struggle with suffering, death and the ultimate meaning of life.

In the midst of all these issues, day to day normality ticks along, Matthew grows and talks more everyday, colds and headaches come and go, I have been to Wellington to visit special friends and spend some time with three children I especially treasure, the end of the year is drawing close and farewells and windups fill up the calendar while plans for Christmas must be made. A friend had her eldest daughter get engaged, a first for their family, and so on it goes; "sunrise, sunset...swiftly flow the years, one season following another, laden with happiness and tears."

I understand less and less as I grow older and am willing to simply contemplate life more and let it simply be, unfolding as it does like a rose, rather than needing to analyse and make sense of it or pick it apart and dissect it.  I think this is a blessing and not just a cop out, at least I hope this is so.  I have been deeply impacted by the tragedies in Baghdad because I count family members here as my friends and their lives are understandably shattered by such deep brutal trauma. "Why" is a question many people ask but I admit this is not my question.  The reality of evil is something I have learned to accept as part of life.  My question is "Where are you Lord?"  I have been living and praying deeply with this question through these tragedies and today I heard myself say to someone, "When the light is particularly intense and you look into it all you see is darkness. I think God is like that in tragedy, he is so close to us that we cannot see even the light and we must hold fast to the truth of his love even when we do not and cannot feel it." St Paul said "nothing can separate us  from the love of God in Christ Jesus" and this is the faith that the Christians of Baghdad are living and dying for, and this is the faith I stand firm on when all about me is darkness.  If I cannot see, I must hold fast to what I know. Truth, love and freedom are gifts of God that make us most fully human and along with faith these will always triumph over evil and are worth living and dying for.

Last night I attended a memorial Mass in the Chaldean Rite for the slain elderly couple, for their family and friends.  It was profoundly moving not just because of the depth of the tragedy and the suffering they are enduring but because of th depth of faith and forgiveness this family and the whole community expressed in incredibly beautiful ancient yet ever new prayer. These prayers come from the land of Abraham, the friend of God and that fact also was deeply moving. I was searching for God and there in the hearts filled with faith and trust in the midst of blinding pain and almost unspeakable suffering and tragedy, in the hearts that sought to love and forgive in the face of brutal hatred, I was reminded anew of the power of love to overcome all evil.  The victory of the cross is not just that Jesus suffered and experienced what we experience as human beings.  It is not a mere identification with our struggles wonderful as that is.  It is a victory of love for love and in love that unleashed the greatest power of the universe into the lives of all mankind for eternity and will never be overcome. The Resurrection guarantees that and the power and presence of the Holy Spirit affirms it everyday. The church for better or worse is the guardian and bearer of that truth for each successive generation and when one is forced to walk perilously close to the gates of hell, it is wonderful to know that the church and the power of Gods love walk with us.

May all who have died rest in peace as they are welcomed into heaven by Gods holy angels and may the family and friends of all who have died experience comfort, compassion and love and be surrounded by those who care and accept them as they are while they mourn and heal through such terrible suffering, and may those who have perpetrated evil and hateful brutality come to know the love and truth of Jesus Christ. To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen

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