Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hope in the Heart of Despair

I was talking with one of my best friends, and the topic of hope in the face of fear and death came up. This usually happens in our conversations, and we briefly reflected on why (or if) we should hope in this world.

Mind you, for me this isn't necessarily about fatalism. It is instead of despair and the problem of suffering. I won't speak as to my friend's thoughts (though we share much in common), but I may just reflect on suffering as a corporate entity.

In my experience, the problem of evil is most despairing. When I've talked with good friends (theist and non-theist), it is a constant issue. For some, they abandon hope, or leave the faith, or somehow becomes stronger. Usually the first two options.

I think the best response to this is, "I don't know."

I don't know if it will get better, or if what you desire will come to pass, or what God or fate was doing in the mist. It is very difficult to assert that "everything works out for good" or "God wanted this" or something along those lines.

For most of my friends, false hope is not an option. For me, I agree.

In meditating on the First Testament story (Old Testament I suppose is what you call it), I noticed that horrible acts and sequences occur, often without warning, and they end in despair. The story of King David is heartbreaking, a life lived in murder and adultery and grasping at the divine straws, playing a secret chord that only YHWH could hear.

Or the story of the Mother of all Living, Eve. Seeing her children torn apart, the first human murder ever to occur within her lifetime. She died without vindication, without seeing the flourishing of humanity.

Life is sometimes random, cruel, brutish and, sometimes if you are lucky, short. Dust to dust.

So what do we do? How should we then live?

Personally, and this may just be silly, but I listen to music. Classical music, no lyrics. And I try, I try to think of beautiful things. I try to remember the last time I had a decent laugh, or the last time I cuddled with my girlfriend, or the last time I had a comma on my bank account.

But I try to push past that, because ashes aren't going to inherit much of anything.

What makes me happy? What doesn't make me suffer? What brings me hope?

I find hope in an empty keyboard sometimes, because of unbridled potential.

I find hope in an empty church, because sounds echo and bounce and settle.

I find hope in death being overturned and given a new purpose, because death is no longer something to fear.

Will I always think this way? Likely not. But, in this moment, I no longer see a heart of despair. And perhaps that is enough for now.

If you don't quite get what I'm alluding to, listen to "I Still Haven't Found what I'm Looking For" by U2. It grasps at it pretty well.

Thanks.

--Nick

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