Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And While We're On The Subject of the Challenges of Loss . . ..

I know that I have a number of good friends and readers who roll their eyes in disbelief, skepticism, irritation, and incredulity whenever the faith stuff comes up ~ and most especially in the context of things like my son's death, and death and loss in general. (Not that there is ever an "in general." It's always so painfully personal.)

If you've read any of Desert Year, then you know that I don't have a sentimental or squishy approach to faith, that I was besieged by a profound sense of God's abandonment in the year-plus after Josh's death, and that I am much more comfortable with questions than with answers. I am going to write more about all of that soon, but not now! ~ as I am confronted by the need to stop all unnecessary activity for two weeks in an effort to salvage my ordination exams, to which ironically, confident answers are the expected response.

I don't, however, want to depart for my husband's family and father's funeral and then The Library, without linking to one of the best things I've read in a long time about faith and consolation. I may have written that in the days after my son's death, I overheard my father say "At least she has her faith to comfort her," and that I shook my head as I kept walking down the hall, thinking that he didn't have the foggiest notion of the challenge of the Christian faith. Much of Desert Year was an exploration of that challenge, although I was far too immersed in pain to see or write a way out.

Ryan Duns, S.J. is an exceptionally thoughtful and articulate young man. I might debate his conclusion a bit, and suggest that there are times when consolation is not about confidence, which has a way of evaporating, but about hope when you can see nothing ~ and about not even your own hope, but that of others, who remain present to you and open to God and hopeful for life again, all when you have moved into some other dimension in which none of those things seem possible. Nevertheless, the post is a wonderful expression of an aspect of Christian faith seldom acknowledged. (I sometimes think that Ryan is channeling my first Jesuit spiritual director, something I recognize because I do it myself on occasion.)

At any rate, enjoy the music in the previous two posts ~ but don't think that I'm under the impression that faith is an easy road, especially when we live on life's most brutal edges.

I may be back sooner than later so that I can bemoan the need to write yet another exegtical paper in Hebrew ~ or I may wait till it's all over.


Karen said...

Agree--that was an excellent post by your Jesuit friend. I never knew there was so little consolation, but now I do. I also never knew there was so much hope in the resurrection, but now I do. Just waiting for that new world now.

Wishing you success on your exams.

Carol said...

Standing by you, albeit from a physical distance, as you continue on this journey.

Mompriest said...

I will light a candle and hold you in prayer as you write your exams. Because even though I stand completely unconvinced by Ryan's argument that confidence is what consoles us (although it is otherwise a good essay), I am convinced and confident in the faith of others to hold us and sustain us when we cannot. I am confident that you will do well on these exams.

Rev SS said...

Thanks for sharing Ryan's post .. and blessings on he preparation and writing of exams ... Iknow you'll do well!

Daisy said...

Very good post; thank you for that. Always good to hear some straight talk. Also agree with you on the confidence thing.

All the best with the exam, GG.