Tag Archives: Faith

The Randomness Of Life

“We all want to convince ourselves that it is about hard work and education and perseverance, but the truth is, life is much more about the fickle and the random. We don’t want to admit it, but we are controlled by luck, by timing, by fate.”
Harlan Coben

I don’t want to believe this. It goes against my faith, my Christian upbringing and what we try to relay to and teach our children. But sometimes…..

When I was a teenager, I used to have conversations with priests about predestination and free will. I went to Catholic grammar school, was an altar boy and attended Catholic high school and so I was “indoctrinated” into a certain set of beliefs. (Of course they didn’t include current lawsuits and settlements, but that’s another story)
I never logically understood how predestination and free will come together and quite honestly, no one ever had an answer for me. So the people I spoke with fell back on the only answer that ended all conversation.

Faith.

And I understand that. I accept that there are things that will never be clear to me and that faith is something I need to have as a Christian. But I’ve never been convinced that predestination and free will are a matter of faith. Other aspects of beliefs, yes but this one never settled in with me.
And as I was reading a Coben book and came across these words, the whole issue came back to  me again. Because I’ve also always believed that so much of life is controlled by place and time.

A woman is walking a child in a stroller on a perfectly calm and sunny day in the park when a tree limb falls on them and kills the child.

Five young people get into a car accident and three survive, telling me that the seat you chose determined if you lived.

You move when you were a teenager to the other side of the country and ten years later you find and marry the love of your life in the town you moved to. What if you didn’t move? Would you still find the one your love and live happily ever after?

You happen to run into someone you haven’t seen in years by chance in a random setting. You talk and the conversation changes the trajectory of your entire professional life.

You get my point. The list is endless. The randomness of life, the paths we choose, the decisions we make, the people we meet, the timing of conversations, is pretty crazy when you step back and think about the possibilities

There are good, well educated, God fearing people who are dealt a bad hand and bad people who live long, privileged lives. I often wonder, when traced back, what turned their lives around.
I’ve always believed in hard work and perseverance but there are many hard working people who have persevered their entire lives and continue to struggle. Conversely, the opposite is true. A chance meeting at the right time, a phone call, an introduction, a decision, an opportunity taken, may change not only your life, but those you love.

I like to believe that everything happens for a reason. At times, it makes life easier to deal with; easier to accept certain things that happen in your life. But I still struggle with whether or not God knew things were going to happen, and if He knew it was going to happen then I really had no choice but to follow His plan. And if that’s the case, then how can I have free will.

I know I’ll never understand it and though I’d like to find a way, I’ll never logically accept it. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe I should just accept and not try to find logic in the illogical. Maybe faith is the only answer when it comes to this particular topic.

Then again………

 

Elie Wiesel

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
Elie Wiesel, NIght

Elie Wiesel died yesterday at the age of 87.

I don’t remember how old I was when I first read the book, NIght, and these words about his first night in Auschwitz as a young boy. I only know that I have never read anything that has conveyed a moment in time as powerfully as this passage.

You don’t have to be of a certain faith or race to appreciate his life and words. You only have to be human.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Elie Wiesel

Among Mr. Wiesel’s many awards are the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He helped establish the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and has campaigned for victims of oppression all over the world, including those in South Africa, Nicaragua and Sudan, among many others.

There may be times  we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
Elie Wiesel

If you have never read the book, NIght, I encourage you to do so. It’s a very short book, but as we’ve learned, the most important lessons of life rarely require elaboration.

No human race is superior; no religious race is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.
Elie Wiesel

We should listen closely to his words today, because as much as the world has changed, nothing has really changed.

Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving; the child, too light, was still breathing…
And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet extinguished.
Behind me, I heard the same man asking; For God’s sake, where is God? And from within me I heard a voice answer: Where is he? This is where–hanging from this gallows…

That night, the soup tasted of corpses.
Elie Wiesel, NIght

God rest his soul.

 

What The Heart Knows

One of my daughters sent this to me the other day. I thought I’d share it with you.

imagesIt was a busy morning, about 8:30 when an elderly gentleman arrived at the hospital to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00am. The nurse took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I spoke with one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress the wound. While taking care of him, I asked if he had another appointment that morning, as he was in a hurry. The gentlemen told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. As we talked, I asked him if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who she was; that she had not recognized him in five years now. I was surprised and asked him, ‘and you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are’?
He smiled as he patted my hand and said, ‘She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is.’