Editor's Note: To help immediately support the families who have been impacted by the recent events in Japan, visit Catholic Relief Services. LMH
I've watched the video of the water sweeping over the farms and sending the SUV's bobbing along like children's toys in a tub and find it is amazing how quickly we forget that all of life can change in an instant. The very ground we walk on is not stable. They say this was one of the biggest recorded earthquakes in history and it looks horrible. My heart is in my mouth as I see the whirlpool and the videos and the still pictures of what happens when the earth and sea are not still.
The howl of that nation as whole towns, whole histories, whole communities were lost, certainly echoes the agony of the garden. For the rest of us, we have the hard grace of being reminded that we are helpless and small and mortal and dust, and that the only thing we can do, and oddly, it is the most powerful thing we could do, is get to our knees and pray hard.
Praying to those who hold faith and the sacred in contempt looks like doing nothing. Prayer however is our non sacramental way of reaching out to God and allowing Him to penetrate our soul. It is time we set apart that is wholly devoted to Not this world. The world is a jealous mistress that resents any moments we spend recognizing that she is not all that; so she crowds our heads with emails and tweets and phone calls and worries and chores and cuts and bills and dust and unexpected hassles and errands and illnesses and death and destruction on a scale we can scarcely imagine.
"See all of this?" she hisses. "How could God Be if He allows this?" Recognize you are being called to pray for the end of all of that, and to work in your own way to alleviate what you can of what the world inflicts. Imagine if everyone freely sought to live out the Beatitudes.
And if you still believe and still seek to pray, she hisses "See all of this?" and she shows you the sick, the dying, the suffering, the poor and the destroyed. "Why Should God Listen to Your Prayers? And why would you waste God's time on your trivial matters?" If your matters are serious, She reminds you of how many people in the world need and how not good or deserving you are. "Why should you merit a miracle?" She spits. None of us do but Christ did not measure our worth by the world's measures and still doesn't.
And if you still believe in trying after that, she hisses, "Bet the answer is No!" and that's when we have to swallow and recognize that because we believe that God doesn't just exist but loves us in an all infinite encompassing way, that we are heard. God's answer is God's answer. He always answers every prayer with greater love. We do not know the prayers of any heart but our own, and those, we should fearlessly place before God.
And then, there is God's time which is not our time. As a child and adolescent, I must have begged, petitioned and cried for friends a thousand times. I asked and asked and asked while I trudged to high school and walked the halls aching for someone to want to talk to me. I prayed to have a lot of people love me (a vain prayer to be sure but I was a teen and it is what every teen aches for, not popularity --that is the error of youth, but for community). And now I have these eleven people who crowd my day and there is always someone to talk with, to listen to, and who smiles when they see me and all I can think is Lavish and Thank you and More Lavish and Thank You.
So as I look at the devastation, I am reminded of this great beauty, this fragile gorgeous life we have, all these gifts like a son's birthday, a daughter crawling into your bed late at night, and the early morning sounds of chirping birds. Recognize that the chaos of one's own life is a joyous peaceful chaos even when there are babies crying and pots being banged and phone calls and bills and a headache. We have this gift of today, of this second and the next and the next. So hug your children and your spouse tightly today. Tell your parents you love them and reach out to your friends. The noise of our lives is a great blessing, the silence and stillness in Japan is a grievous wound. Joyfully embrace your Lenten fast and breathe deeply the air of this and pray for those who died and those who live on and must pick up the pieces.
He is with them and He is with us. Our hearts break for these people; mend theirs and ours.
Copyright 2011 Sherry Antonetti