A friend posted something on Facebook yesterday that really spoke to me:
“‘Recognizing the good’ does not deny the painful realities of life, but instead moves faithfully into the space of contradiction and says ‘yes’ to the good, true, and beautiful things that are all around us.” (a passage from A Movable Feast: Worship for the Other Six Days by Terry Timm)
I have found myself grappling in extra measure this week with being in the “space of contradiction,” trying desperately to fix my eyes on all that is still good and right in the world, yet coming face to face with the painful, tough stuff of life day after day.
Each morning, I am greeted by radiation techs who are smiling, warm, and caring—doing their best to make me comfortable. By all measures, beautiful examples of health care providers doing things right. Yet, I cannot deny the looming, buzzing cancer-killing machine that sits mere inches from my body. And the whole process of radiation remains a space of contradiction to me. It is intended for healing, yet with each passing day, I notice signs of the effects on my body that feel like anything but healing.
I found myself behind a hearse the other day. A shiny, silver Cadillac decked out with chrome trim, padded vinyl top, and curtains in the window. Inside, I could see the glossy, rounded top of a casket, the inside of which was no doubt lined with pleated, white fabric and a fluffy pillow to dress it up. The vehicle and the casket were intended to be beautiful and stately, bringing a measure of class and dignity to the deceased. Yet, the whole reason for their existence is death. I couldn’t help but think that somewhere, there was a family whose hearts were breaking at the loss of a loved one.
The grittiness of life exists alongside potential good and beauty in so many situations we encounter. It is a conscious decision to focus on the positive, the beautiful, the blessings. Sitting on my porch on a sunny, warm Saturday morning and enjoying the bustle of life in my neighborhood, that’s not so difficult. At other times, it is a hard-fought resolution not to be mired in the ugliness in the world—whether in my own little sphere or across the globe somewhere.
There’s a verse in Philippians 4 that tells us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” I think that verse is in there because God knows we need to be reminded where to direct our minds in this world that is at once so broken and so glorious.
I know this post echoes others I’ve written—that idea of hope and good in the midst of trial or pain. Perhaps that’s a natural mental space to hang out in when facing a situation like mine. Then again, maybe it’s not so natural. There are plenty of folks I have encountered in the waiting room who clearly do NOT have that bent. Their faces are hardened into a frown, they complain often, and they seem, at least to me, to be miserable. So, I suppose I’m OK with not getting points for originality in my recent writings—if it helps me (and maybe the couple dozen folks who read this blog) to remember to choose to see the good.