Tuesday, July 22, 2014

To Lose a Child

I've had the idea for this blog for quite some time now but have hesitated to actually write it due to the sensitivity of the concept combined with my fear of upsetting some readers because of the indescribable pain some of you may have experienced.  So with that, I ask for your grace and understanding as I attempt to carefully convey my point.

I was in a park today playing with my three kids and two of their little friends.  In between throwing a frisbee and giving pushes on the swings, I couldn't help but remember the fact that I won't always be able to do this.  Thankfully, I still have all three of my kids.  But....I won't always.  I pray I never experience the immense pain of a parent who has lost their son or daughter, and and I would never want to even begin to trivialize that suffering, but I think its important for us to remember if we live long enough....eventually.......we all will lose our "children."  We may never lose the son or daughter and with luck we will get to out live them....but our children....they are only here for a short time, maybe 10 or 11 years.  After that, they begin to move on in their journey toward adulthood and independence

I've heard it said that there is no pain that can compare to that of a parent losing a child.  Those who have experienced it confirm it first hand...those of us who haven't refuse to even think about how awful it would be.  But we must be careful...because instead of losing our child terribly and suddenly, many of us instead lose them gradually and quietly.  Day by day we forget these moments are precious and temporary for we will only have them in this innocent playful state for a short time, then before we know it the child that climbed into our lap with a book and slept with that silly stuffed animal, or held our hand when we walked, or asked us to play catch is gone, never to return.

Granted it is eventually replaced with a new relationship, one that is still good and beautiful but that will closer resemble a peer and a friend, one in with whom we can take equal pride and love, and one that should be equally appreciated and cherished, but the dynamic will be different.

So in the end, after speaking with many who have lost a child tragically, the truth they always plead for me to understand is that if we still have our children we must remember to savor every second with them because we are not guaranteed to always have them....in fact...it is guaranteed we won't.  And it is with that heavy thought that I am going to put the computer down and, while I still can, snuggle onto the couch to take in some cartoons with some little people who won't always be little.      

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I'm losing faith in faith

One of the most important attributes of most religions is the belief in an afterlife and it is the belief in this afterlife that can motivate a great deal of action from people during the course of their lives.  It is the believe in an afterlife that can drive people to give to the poor or to quit drinking, smoking, and cursing.  It can cause people to literally sacrifice their lives in both negative and positive ways in hopes of spending eternity in bliss.

What is a little strange about this though is that in the end....much, if not most, of religion is based not on what we actually know but what we think we know.  Faith is not exactly obvious for if it were, we wouldn't have so many different religions around the world.  But we do, we have hundreds of different faith systems most of which are driven greatly by what we don't know.

Rather than calling this by a less flattering term like "ignorance" we instead use pretty words...words like "faith."  But if we were to be completely honest, the fact is for those of us who adhere to a faith system, much of our lives are governed by what we can't know for sure.

Personally, I believe the dirty little secret at the foundation of almost every faith system is a little thing called FEAR.  Most people who choose to follow a religion do so out of fear.  For some its the fear of hell for others its the fear of not obtaining heaven, for almost all its the fear of death.  Think about it, most of us are scared to die and it is our faith that helps to alleviate that fear.  It is in our faith that we draw hope.  The problem with hope being drawn from faith is the fact that it is impossible for that hope to be built on certainty, because if it was...it wouldn't be called faith.

Sadly, it is this great focus on what we don't know that causes us to miss out on the opportunity to zero in on the things we do know.  Things that exist here and now in this life.  I'm a Christian, but I honestly can't tell you for sure that Jesus was the Son of God.  In fact, I can't tell you for certain that he was anything other than just a remarkable guy with some ideas that got passed down through the centuries.  If I could...once again....it wouldn't be called faith.

But I can look at a number of things he said and see that they still have profound meaning and impact, not when I die, but right this second in the here and now.  He said things like "don't worry about tomorrow" which I translate to "live in the moment."  Things like love your neighbor and love yourself, to be kind to others and not to repay evil for evil.  He told us to forgive and to be generous.  I can't say for sure what these things will or won't do for us in the afterlife (assuming there is one....I have faith that there is) but I will say that I can see quite clearly the benefits they would have on this life, right now.  In fact, that requires almost no faith and as a result is very easy to believe.  So, perhaps the religions of the world might have a chance to look much more alike if we were to focus more on what we do know rather than what we don't.  It is what we don't know that divides so many of us, arguing about theories and speculations about how things might be, yet it is what we do know, it is love, that has the power to unite and change the world.  Perhaps the time has come to spend less time focusing on what we don't know and more focusing on what we do?