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Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast

Spirituality Essay:

It Is    ( September 2008 )

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We live our lives as well as we can. We try to and usually do all the right things. And yet, because we live in a random universe, where so much is beyond our control, bad things happen. Interspersed with life's joys and triumphs come accidents, sicknesses, losses, failures, and tragedies - all too frequently out of nowhere and for no apparent reason. No life is spared. All is fine one day ... upended the next. We're in shock. We suffer and we hurt - often profoundly. In our pain, our minds scramble to make sense of this. Why? This isn't fair, or right - it shouldn't be happening! Why? ... Why me?!

Our moans are real. And deserved. But our actual pain may well be dwarfed by the shudder it sends through us ... the soul-searching ... the acute need we humans feel to link cause and effect.

Why bad things happen (unexpectedly, undeservedly) is a question all of us have probably wrestled with. It is arguably the central issue religion is organized around ... explaining and comforting our wounds.

That large subject is well beyond the scope of this article of course, but I'd like to offer an approach that can help start the recovery, healing, and understanding process.

In our struggle to make sense of these "bad things", depending on our background, we're likely to go into habitual feelings of guilt (what did I do to deserve this), victimization (why does this always happen to me), or blame (someone else did this to me).

All tend to block our healthy processing and our using this misfortune to become the opportunity for personal and spiritual growth it can and should be.

It may be counter-intuitive, but may I suggest that our first response be, in whatever space of "quiet" we can create, to accept it. Allow its presence. This situation now is. It has happened. It is.

Accepting it doesn't necessarily mean being resigned to it (forthright responses may well be called for) ... but allowing that this-is-happening to just fully be - in this moment, in our life, in our consciousness - can create a surprising sense of peace and comfort we would never imagine possible.

And from that settled space ... that non-judgmental acknowledgement that this is where our life now is ... we're so much more likely to create the new and different thought patterns, insights, and solutions we need. And the wonderful growth that inevitably unfolds.

We'll follow up with more thoughts on this in future columns.

This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
Read more Spirituality Essays
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