One day in December I stopped at the local gas station to fill the tank because I was going out that evening. It was the day of our annual church Christmas dinner. When I went inside to pay, the clerk was watching a little TV. I couldn’t help but hear what was being talked about, and I asked “did that just happen?” (Not having television myself, I never quite know if I am current on the latest news.) She said yes, and its only going to get worse (I think she was referring to that Mayan calendar thing.) It was news of the horrible elementary school shooting in Connecticut. I got back in my car and cried.
That night I went on to church for our Christmas dinner. Because that’s what we do in America. We say our lives will be changed forever. But the next day we go out for lunch with our friends.
Our church dinner is always a very pretty affair. Each table is hosted by a different woman, and she decorates the table using her best dishes and Christmas decorations. Honestly, it kind of irritates me. But that is a story for another time. At some point during the dinner I looked around the room and thought, it could happen here. This is exactly the kind of unexpected place where this kind of unexpected horror could take place. Uncertain times.
And it just continued on from there. A blogger died unexpectedly. A friend’s husband got cancer and was gone in four months. The Boston Marathon. West, TX. Uncertain times.
Brene Brown spoke about the collective fear she sees in our culture since 9/11 hit.
Anne Lamott wrote about her trip to Europe. A friend advised her that she needed to see a concentration camp in person “to get at a cellular level the fact that despite our great love and art, we are a violent species. Cain is still killing Abel.” There was a beginning, but there is no end to evil in our world.
When we are honest and true, we know deep down that all of life is uncertain. We just relate more to certain events. “It could have been my child.” “I am a runner.” “I am a blogger.” “My brother lives in west Texas…” And the biggest fear “It could have been me.”
As always, I turn to my God for answers. I’m afraid there are many things that won’t be answered clearly in this lifetime. I don’t pretend to understand why these things happen. I won’t try to give you trite answers, or to tie everything up in a neat little theological package with a pretty little bow on top. But I was comforted by the words I found in the Psalms. For me, this is the only way I can live. I hope in my God. He is my Rock and my fortress.
I run to Him in uncertain times. And I find hope.
(You can see more of the quilt on my quilt blog.)