When I was a little girl, aside from the images of God in the beautiful paintings that adorned the pages of the Bible my mother made us children read every week, my image of God was of a giant hand coming down from the heaven’s above, to chastise and control me.
God knew everything, my mother said. So, whether or not I wanted to tell her the truth, God knew. One day I’d pay the price for my transgressions. Which according to her (and the rest of my family) were many.
I know my mother meant well. I know she was trying to ‘bring me up right’. To be a God-fearing woman one day.
And therein lay the rub. I never wanted to fear God. I wanted to know Love.
As a child, I couldn’t understand why, if God saw and knew everything before it happened, he’d let bad things happen. Wouldn’t it be in his best interests and the best interests of the world to stop the bad before it got a whole lot worse?
Which is why I used to love to write letters to God. I figured that if he knew everything, he’d definitely be able to answer my questions. So, I’d painstakingly print him long rambling letters on lined paper, struggling to ensure each letter was perfectly formed.
It seldom was. At least, not well enough to gain my mother’s unconditional approval. In fact, she was somewhat askance at my letter writing efforts. “You can’t say that to God,” she’d admonish me. “He won’t like it.”
Which is where I kept running into confusion. If God loved me unconditionally wouldn’t he accept my childish queries with Love and no judgement?
According to my mother, God didn’t like smart alecs.
Now, I’m not trying to paint a picture of my mother as bad. She most definitely wasn’t. In her world, brought up by an ultra-Catholic mother, God was to be revered. Not questioned. God was to be obeyed. Not challenged.
I had other ideas. I liked to question everything (and yes, it drove her crazy). I was curious and stubborn, never accepting the answers I was given as anything other than an opening to my next question.
In the case of God, I didn’t think blind faith was a good enough reason to toe the religious line. I thought God, or in my vernacular today, the Divine, was greater than that.
I’m all grown up now. Well kind of. I even have a label, “senior citizen” (though that particular designation is a relatively new phenomenon in my life and, to be frank, one I am still surprised to witness when I look into the mirror).
These days, however, it is that label that is causing me concern. Senior citizens are one of the groups at higher risk of experiencing complications should they contract Covid-19. My beloved, who is a few years older than me, is at even greater risk because of an underlying health condition.
This morning, as I lay in bed in that space between awake and dreaming, I wrote a letter to God, just as I did as a child.
My vision of ‘God’ is different today than my childhood imaginings. Much of what I was taught way back then has gone by the wayside as I rose from those childhood pews and surrendered my fear of God to Love.
Which ultimately, is what my mother taught me – to always believe in the transformational power of Love.
It doesn’t matter the times, Love is always present, and if I am to believe my mother, so is God.
Your people are suffering. Many of them are dying. This world that was created with such Love, this world that is filled with so much beauty and wonder, is in pain.
We need you. Now more than ever, we need you and your battalion of angels to swoop down and sweep away this virus that is killing off so many of our humankind.
I know that death is a continuation of life, but dear God, these tears, this pain and anger, it is killing the human spirit. Decimating whole families, communities, countries. It is killing more than just your people God, it is killing our faith in tomorrow, our belief in the sacredness of life and our trust in Love.
Dear God, I know it is not your way to interfere in the daily workings of the world, that we have free will so that we can make our own choices, come what may. But honestly God, none of us would have knowingly, consciously chosen this pestilence. None of us want our loved ones to suffer alone and die alone. None of us want this. We don’t know what to do, and it is the unknown that is hurting us all.
Dear God, please have mercy on this suffering world. We need you and now, more than ever, we need Love. Because only Love can stop our pain. Only Love can quell our fear. And only Love can heal our broken hearts.
Your human who believes in the power of Love.
Please note. These are my thoughts. My beliefs. My way of understanding the world.
I am not challenging your faith, belief or religious practices. I am sharing what I feel, believe and hold true for me.
My beliefs may be different than yours, but that does not make us enemies. We may kneel before different altars, we may sit in different pews, but no matter where in the world we are, or what we believe, we are all one humanity.
I would love to hear your views, different or otherwise. It is our differences that make each life so unique and cherished. It is how we honour one another with loving-kindness, in all our differences, that makes all the difference in the world.
I won’t challenge your belief system, though it is different from mine – because none of us know for sure, so that’s a debate for another day.
So far as I know there has never been a divine intervention to save any species. I heard about Noah and a big boat, but I think that was a metaphor within a story rather than historical truth. Still, each time we dodge a flood, we look for higher ground and want safety.
Of course, I don’t know if dinosaurs, ‘the missing link’, the passenger pigeon or any other of thousands of extinct species or species at risk ever asked for God’s help …
It seems to me that overpopulation, disease, natural disasters, and invasive species are a reality on this planet, and while I’m no scientist, it would seem absurd for humans to be insulated from these factors which cause injury, death, and die-off events – sometimes without warning, with massive consequences.
We, humans, have been warned so many times, and we – this most intelligent species – ignore warnings, even now. Just watch the news; on one hand we have leaders in some jurisdictions by their words as well as their inactions, essentially saying, “no worries” … and on the other hand we have leaders (i.e., Kenny, Trudeau) telling us that “soon” they will tell us what expert predictions are. Outrageous, in a democracy, that valuable information would be withheld until they think we should get to hear it. Why? Just because it is bad news?
But I digress …
Whatever happens, whether God-permitted, God-created, or God-prevented, it seems to me that much of what is happening now could have been man-prevented, man-reduced, man-prepared better …
Darwin wrote early science on survival and adaptation of species – to be stronger and innovative to survive. We are all part of some cycle of life that, apparently, claims us all. Eventually.
Given I’ve set a high target for my own life expectancy, I daily wonder if living through these times will leave us weaker or stronger, with stronger immune-systems or weakened ones, with longer life expectancies, or with shorter ones?
We all want to avoid death by not dying. I’m told it is inevitable, but not sure I can believe that. I’m told there is a God, but not sure I can believe that.
So, what can I do?
What can you do?
We can be as safe, clean, and isolated as possible – and encourage others to do the same.
For those who pray about things, pray.
For those who cross their fingers, cross them all.
For those who write about it, write loud and publish widely.
Hopefully, somewhere, those who have any power to do something beyond our own personal power will be listening.
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Thank you Mark for this very wise response.
These are amazing questions — “Given I’ve set a high target for my own life expectancy, I daily wonder if living through these times will leave us weaker or stronger, with stronger immune-systems or weakened ones, with longer life expectancies, or with shorter ones?”
And yes, I agree — we have done so many things with our ‘free will’ to create the possibility of a pandemic like this. throughout history, there are times when a virus swept around the globe killing off whole populations. and then, there are the times, man did the killing.
Like you, I don’t believe it will be divine intervention that will save the day.
I do believe, however, that it is Love that will help us weather whatever this storm brings.
I hope you are staying well, that you reach your expected end of life date, that you are weathering this storm in the safety and protection of your home, and that you are well my friend.
I smiled at the last of that sentence as the thought scampered through my mind, “It’s a scary world out there.” LOL — there’s always been things to be scared of out there. And, there’s always been love.
Sending you loads of well-being and a hugs (virtual of course). 🙂
thanks for sharing your thoughts Mark. You are a wise man.
I found this extremly interesting, I believe in God and I trust in God and belive he is watching over us.
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I am so grateful for your faith dear Joanne. ❤