Thursday, March 29, 2007

Harmony in a beautiful, minor key

I spend a lot of time wondering how so much beauty and joy can live in complete harmony with so much evil and suffering.

It isn't the co-existence that is difficult for me to fathom, but the complete harmony. Think on it for a moment - birth, and death; decay and sustenance. They are truly like two sides of the same coin.

Imagine that I have just awakened, for the first time, on earth. I am fully grown, fully conscious, and I am looking around for the first time. As I try to take in my surroundings - the lush vegetation, busy, buzzing insect and animal life, breathtaking mountaints and rock formations, rushing rivers, silent lakes, ancient, stoic trees, demanding oceans- I am overwhelmed by creation, by life, by beauty. It takes my breath away! The sun rising and setting, the whispering of the wind through branches and leaves, the tender love passing between individuals of nearly all species. Surely this is Eden that I find myself in.

And yet. This is not, cannot be, my reaction at all. The beauty that is inherent is overwhelmed by the danger of my position, the cold, the carnivores, the enemies I find in every aspect of nature including myself. I am so vulnerable. There is so much suffering. And absolutely every living thing I see participates not only in creating life but also in creating destruction. The deeper this beauty sinks into my heart the deeper I feel the pain and toil and fear and suffering that is also here. Something, someone, is always producing threat, sadness.

What kind of explanation could I possibly conceive that would make sense of this world I am awakening to?

I love to explore the world through books. And the single element that takes a book from "great" to "excellent" for me is its ability to portray life such that the good and the bad, the beauty and the pain, are intertwined, interconnected, both real and true parts of living life to the full, living life abundantly. Any story that tells of beauty and joy, or pain and loss, or pits the two against each other as polarized opposites is not telling the full story.

I spend a lot of time wondering how so much beauty and joy can live in complete harmony with so much evil and suffering.


Kimberly said...

That completely blew me away. So much truth there. And truth is such a rare and precious thing.

Dedee said...


I have been learning this about love. Love is beautiful and wonderful, and yet comes with an inherent pain that I find oxymoronic. The One who loved us best suffered by far the most pain.

Thanks for making me think.

sam said...

hey cath,
thanks for the comment on my site! and yes, i try to post more regularly now. :)
hey, your post is similar to what i just shared with a kid here this week. we were at doi inthanon the tallest mountain in thailand doing outdoor education with the 7th and 8th graders, and during our devotions in the evening the questions starting pouring out from the kids. one in particular is struggling mightily, thinking bad thoughts like killing himself (this i know because he told me later on) because of a personal tragedy, so his questions reflected a lot of the pain he was going through. one of his questions was why did god create us, only for some of us to go to hell? you know that this wasn't just an intellectual musing when when you see the tears flowing down. so how do you explain that to a hurting young brother? i decided not to explain anything, and just sat and listened. and shared my own story, and my own questions that were answered by God in a very different way than i expected. kinda like Job. i hope that God will grant him peace someday, like he did with many of us. anyway, see, you make a comment on my site and you get me rambling in yours. and i need your address so i can send you an invitation. :)

Julie Q. said...

Wow, there's a lot here to think about. This was my favorite line:

And absolutely every living thing I see participates not only in creating life but also in creating destruction.

How true. We're all caught up in the paradox. I agree with you too on the point that books that ignore the struggle (that paint only a rosey picture or wallow only in the pain) do not seem honest.

Dedee said...

I've been thinking a lot about this post. One of the amazing paradoxes you talked about in the line about creating and destroying life is oxygen. We have to have it to live, and yet it is toxic to our body and is slowly killing us. You are awesome!

Literacygirl said...

!!It reminds me of when right before I came over to see you, my friend called to tell me she just miscarried for the 2nd time. I cried on my drive over, there was such joy when I did get to see your semi-new life, Asher. (Oh, it was good to see you too!)

How many days until June??? Can't wait for my favorite cuz and nephew to come and pool party with me. He's gonna be our WATER BABY! (Remember you have to share him with me.... -the upper half that is!)

Catherine said...

Thanks, Friends, for adding thoughts to my thoughts. I like having you here. :)

Mama Sarita said...

that was lovely and profound.