There are several physical actions that take place during the Orthodox prayer service. One stands, sits, and bows at various places, to name a few. The actual words have lost much of their meaning for me, some of the phrases that speak of a Compassionate and Merciful God, a God who answers prayers, who protects and delivers his people from harsh judgements, just don’t ring true to me now. For years Terry and I prayed for that God to protect Jake; for whatever reasons, it didn’t work. Yet, I still do many of the movements anyway. I stand, I sit, I bow at the right times and places. Mostly I am there to say Kaddish; the truth is, I am just going through the motions.
It is the same in my day-to-day activities. I go through the motions. I do my errands, send in my resumes and job applications, make phone calls, show up on Wednesdays to volunteer at Venice Arts, bring in the Shabbat on Fridays, and so on. I am living in each day, and I guess that is good, but my future is clouded now. I peer into the fog and can’t get a clear picture of what lies ahead. I am devoid of greater purpose than just getting through the day. I lost my direction, and haven’t yet found an alternate course. I have no confidence that this will turn out all right. I have heard it said that “All things work out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it isn’t the end yet.” Hah.
I have always had difficulty with the concept of an All Knowing Deity, the “magic man in the sky” who watches over us mere mortals, records our deeds, knows the outcome of all situations, hears secret thoughts, performs miracles, revives the dead, and renders judgement. (Revives the dead? Okay, let’s see what ya got. No?) My concept of spirituality and “God” is broader, more connected with the life force of the unseen universe. Yes, there are things in this world of which we do not know, forces at work we can’t see or feel. There is human consciousness, for example, one of the greatest miracles of all, a mighty force, but we can’t see it, feel it, touch it, hear it, or smell it. However, that consciousness can only perceive a fraction of what is really going on around us. Our view of the world is limited by what we take in with our senses. Our eyes see a tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum, our ears can only hear a limited range of frequencies. Sometimes we may have the sensations that there is ‘something else there’, we just don’t know what or where it is. I often feel Jake’s presence around me; is he truly there or is it just a construct of my mind, longing to have him back?
We all have a divine spark within us, and where that spark goes when we die will always be a topic of debate and ineffable mystery. Faith plays a big part in how people perceive this mystery, those with great unshakable faith may have a better time of it than I am having. There must be comfort in knowing there is a Divine Plan to all this. I have learned that this is a random and capricious universe. Our ideas of what is and what isn’t change in a single heartbeat. Our lives turn inside out in the space of a two-minute telephone call. So much pain and anguish replace our own plans and dreams for the future. What kind of Plan is that? For whose benefit is this Plan formulated? Whose Plan is it anyway? I don’t intend to blaspheme here, nor denigrate anyone’s beliefs; it is just I am not so sure about that Plan, or if it even exists. If it does, from my perspective, any Plan that took my son from me for any reason is a shitty plan. If it doesn’t, well, what’s the difference?
And so, I live day by day, waiting for my own personal springtime to catch up with the rest of the world. How long that will take, I don’t know. Until it does, I’ll continue just going through the motions.
I think this is a struggle all of us who have lost a child go through. I struggled with my beliefs especially while my son, who was a very good person, fought for his life and lost yet in the room next to him a drug addict won his battle only to fight his family to let him leave to go get his next fix. Why did God not answer my prayers? And yet I still have faith and go through the motions as you say waiting on an answer. The battle inside us does not make this any better.
The other truth is, there may not be any answers. I wish you peace.
I, too, have been going through the motions for the past 6 1/2 months. It is difficult to find the passion and purpose I once had for my job, which pains me as I have always given so much of myself to my students, their families and our school community. Some days it is all I can do to get through the day being the person I need to be for my 28 students. Some days it is like being on automatic pilot, but anything outside of the routine can be somewhat of a challenge. I have often wondered if this journey would be any easier for me if I had a faith, but I’m not convinced that it would. Like the previous commenter I have moments of bewilderment when I think of those who are no longer with us but had so much to give, and those who damage others but are still here. If there is a plan I don’t get it!
Peace to you Ed. Thank you for your thoughts and for sharing your journey – or is that our journey? You have a real gift and manage to write so eloquently and articulately.
I don’t know about a Divine Plan, but you’re so right that we don’t, in fact, see the whole picture. We’re all going to die. It’s not for any of us to say when – our work is what we do with the way life is living us. I don’t ask why Philip died because that would only lead to resentment and despair. I’m grieved enough without adding to my burden. But I’m graced, too, in that Philip is all around me, talking to me, giving me real and undeniable signs. “I’m trying to show you what death isn’t,” he’s told me. He’s certainly changed my view of it – he’s way too present for me to think death is the end of life.
Oh, but what I’d give to have him here, where I can see him and touch him. But that’s not an option – so I turn to him for comfort, and there he is, and will always be.
Thank you both for your observations. Pam, it is like being on auto-pilot. We just navigate through a familiar landscape, and as you say, any change from the routine becomes a challenge. It is still so new to me, that I often find myself bewildered, is this all real? How could this have happened to US? And then, of course I have to admit that it did. I don’t accept it, probably never will, but I do admit it, what choice do I have? Denise, Jake is around, that ‘s for sure. We get signals that we think are from him, but part of the mystery is that no one really knows what goes on after life here in this physical plane. I guess we’ll find out sooner or later. I will always be heartbroken that Jake had to find out sooner.
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