Creativity for the Rest of Us

It’s All The Mystery

This week on Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed first responders to the World Trade Center bombings.  A comment I heard has stayed with me.  After humbly relaying what by all accounts was the heroic story of his experience in the South Tower on the morning of September 11, Capt. Jay Jonas was asked to comment on why it was that he didn’t like it when people said to him that God was with him on that day. “By saying that God was with me that day, you’re also kind of saying that God was not with them (those who didn’t make it out) that day.  And that certainly was not the case.”

This brought up some feelings and thoughts that have been workin’ me for a while and that I haven’t fully landed in yet.  For those of us who believe in “something greater than ourselves” – whatever and however you identify that presence (which I will for illustrative purposes call “The Mystery”), it’s easy to think that The Mystery is responsible for all the goodies – the job I wanted, the wealth, the new love, as well as the saves – the people who didn’t make it to work in the towers on 9/11 and are alive today because of it.

When it comes to loss, grief, illness, disappointment or pain of any kind – large or small, we aren’t much in the habit of thanking The Mystery.  I was laid off from a job I really needed to quit but was too scared to take action. A back injury over the summer provided a few weeks of rest that I needed but wouldn’t take the time to slow down for. The Mystery was doing for me what I could not do for myself.  It didn’t occur to me right away to be grateful for those but in retrospect, they were a gift.

I believe that our thoughts and language create our experience of reality.  I will get more of what I look for and pay attention to.  What I have trouble with is the subtle but underlying (and mostly unspoken) judgment that if life isn’t going exactly the way you want it to, you’re doing something wrong or are deficient in some way.

I also detect a societal expectation (mostly media fueled) that we’re supposed to be in perfect health, with thriving relationships and abundant prosperity all the time.  This doesn’t always happen.  Life is messy.  It’s a process and a journey. We don’t just arrive there overnight.  In our humanity we have to go through all of our human feelings and stages.

As I said, this is workin’ me.  A dear friend experienced a stroke two weeks ago and the right side of her body is currently paralyzed.  I trust that there will be a gift in here somewhere, at some point.  While I hold the vision of her complete recovery, I haven’t made it to gratitude yet.

I’m curious as to how others of you are working with this.

6 Responses to “It’s All The Mystery”

  1. Dee Brodkin says:

    Dear Mary, I was brought up on the question, “Where was God during the holocaust”. Many people were able to take their belief in God with them, others gave it up. Who was right? I once told my sponsor that I believed that the prayers of many had helped my son recover from a near death illness. She looked at me and said, “it didn’t work for my daughter”. There is a great unknown in this life. So do I believe in a world that makes sense or in a world of uncertainty? It’s been my experience that there is great wisdom found on both sides of the question. I challenge myself to embrace the unknown, to live in the question.

  2. Asa says:

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