Today's sermon at First Church on Park Square in Pittsfield MA was extraordinary at many levels. Reverend Lumsden's words echoed for me personally since I have suffered a severe loss and continue to struggle with many aspects of this life SHOCK! Many people have tried to provide me with religious justifications for what happened to Vicki, and I can tell you some of it has made me very angry! I have been told that God needed Vicki to do more work in heaven because she was so good! I have been told her circumstances were a gift of some sort, and I just wanted to be sick. I truly sense some people don't want to even be near me as I am someone who represents awful life stuff that no one would want to experience! Most of what well-meaning people have said to me only negates the reality of what happened and thus eliminates the kind of lunar luminosity that could shine as a result. Their words are more of an effort to hang onto control rather than relinquish it to the higher power that frees us to truly live an upside down existence. As a man who has read most of what Thomas Moore and a few others have had to say about Christ, God and religion, I would have to say that Rev. Lumsden's remarks could pour right out of a book by Moore! So profound, and pointing to a new/old way of thinking that recognizes that life is full of joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, miracle and tragedy. God does not cause this sorrow, but the world is constructed in such a way that even a life lived well can end too soon. The foolishness of one can kill hundreds of innocents and even good intentions can cause pain. We have finite physical lives that can only reflect the light of the infinite and all too often we strive to be the light rather than the reflection. Rev. Lumsden and all who think like him represent a shift in thinking that I think was always the intention in Christ's life!
I can tell you that while I see no good in the actual illness and death of Vicki at the age of 44, and I cringe at anyone who would suggest this notion. I have connected with new people (RJ) and new depths of feeling and thought that have helped me with cope with this shock to my soul. Perhaps this new awareness can further my own spiritual growth and call attention to new ways for me approach life. I can tell you that I know that God did not cause this tragedy with the explicit intention of teaching me some valuable cosmic lesson. But, the possibility does exist to see and live with the idea that I do not understand everything, and cannot explain much at all. This shock does indeed grab me and my therapist has even explained that there is a part of the brain that changes as a result of grief and puts someone like me on a sort of hyper alert. I feel that alertness. It has enabled me to view some things that the "normal" more self motivated Steve could not see. I have known some things with my head, but I think I see some things now with my heart. This does not mean that I have changed dramatically, but the opportunity does exist. It truly is a journey and not an easy one!
Enough of my rambling...let me post the three parts of this sermon...please listen to it all along with the wonderful Mindy Smith song performed by Between the Banks.
Religion is perhaps taking a new direction and perhaps it had better since so many seem to be leaving churches. This song by Tommy James and the Shondells with Vicki's sky picture as a backdrop comes to mind! With lines like.... The sun is rising...a new day is coming....see the light...peace and good...brotherhood.....look to your soul and open your mind....
I also want to post this next Springsteen song because it so reflects what one can feel like when dealing with loss, alone and separated.