Archive for September, 2012

Conspiring Against Us?

It was the first day of my paternity leave and we were on the news.  Well, sort of.

I was out running an errand and my wife texted me to say that there was “something going on” at the intersection of Warwick Boulevard and Young’s Mill Lane.  I decided to drive past and see what was happening.  What I saw was an unusual number of cars in our office building parking lot as well as a few police cars blocking Young’s Mill Lane and then, just as I went past, a bomb squad truck turning the corner, too.

At home we checked the news.  There wasn’t a whole lot of information at first, only that the police were on the scene of a “tactical situation”.  Soon, though, the local news stations updated their websites to say that the police were helping the FBI to apprehend a federal fugitive, and it quickly became clear that this was something that could go on for hours.  And all the while, visible in the background of the coverage, was our Sanctuary building and our sign with the chalice symbol.

Now for a Thursday in July we had quite a lot of scheduled activities, including a dance class, a band rehearsal, a committee meeting and a movie night!  So I called the President and the DRE to make sure that they had heard the news and we helped the Administrator to make calls and tell as many people as we could reach that they’d need to reschedule.  Though I know of one or two people who had tried to get to the Fellowship that evening — and soon realized they couldn’t — I’m thankful that the worst that happened was that that many of our neighbors couldn’t get to their homes for a few hours, and I’m glad that the fugitive was finally located and arrested without incident.

Well, so much for day one of my leave!

Now if you’re parent or a pet owner you’ll know that children and animals tend to wait until nights and weekends to get sick.  Or maybe there was a time when you were away from home only to find, as relatives of ours did recently, that a crucial piece of plumbing decided to fail catastrophically in your absence.  Or perhaps you took time off work only to received panicked calls about a crisis that demanded your attention.  Such things can be hard enough to deal with at the best of times, and even the most hardened rationalist could be forgiven for sometimes thinking that the gods of fate and fortune must be conspiring against them!

For me, though, such a tendency towards cosmic paranoia is tempered by an attitude of pronoia, a word that was coined to describe the sense that the Universe is conspiring to bless us.  At either extreme, of course, lies pathological affliction, but in my opinion a healthy world-view — or, in religious terms, a healthy faith — must recognize that some of the things that happen to us in life are going to be bad and some of them are going to be good.  (And a few of them, of course, are going to be both at the same time.)  Part of my faith is also about letting go of the “Why?” questions.  I just don’t think it’s helpful to agonize over why bad things happen to good people; in fact it’s just as much a mystery why good things happen to good people, only we tend not to worry so much about that because it appeals to our sense of justice, even if that’s an entirely human concept that the Universe doesn’t share.  Rather, the most important part of my faith is that, whether life brings me joy or woe, I have a community enfolding me in love, sharing both blessings and troubles, and seeking to tip the scales of fate and fortune ever more toward the good.

May our beloved community embrace you in compassion and hope.

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