Monday, February 20, 2017

Thoughts on Senseless Loss

Hello all, it sure has been a while since I’ve last written, huh? Life has been good, and I have been more than sufficiently busy living it! I had a few thoughts floating around in my head, and I felt inspired to share them with you tonight.

“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NABRE)

This passage of scripture showed up in my Facebook feed today, and my mind kept looping back to it throughout my day, so I figured God wanted me to think about it a little more.

The last few days have been filled with sadness for many in the area, as a beloved man in the community passed away in a tragic car accident. He was a highly respected and loved high school math teacher who was driving home from watching his students play basketball. A drunk driver who was on the run from law enforcement was going the wrong way on the highway and hit him head-on. Here, we have an innocent bystander, a beloved educator who had touched countless lives throughout his 20-year teaching career, a veteran of the United States Army who proudly served his country for many years, a devoted family man who left behind a wife, seven children, and multiple grandchildren, a staunch Catholic who was uncompromising in his convictions, yet merciful and humble, lost his life.

Situations like these make my head spin. I remember feeling the same way when my uncle Joe was killed in his bicycle accident. Random, senseless deaths have the power to shake us to our core. They make even the most faithful of persons wonder what God is thinking, wonder how such a kind and loving God could do this, wonder how it could ever be fair that people have to endure hardships such as these. Deaths as these tear us down, shatter our sense of peace, break us to our very core.

So often they make us lament, “Why God? Why? How could you? How could this possibly be for the good of your kingdom? WHY?!”

Sudden, tragic deaths as these leave us with more questions than answers. Family members never truly get closure. Healing is made more difficult by encountering situations that remind us of the death, like doing what we did on the day the death happened, driving by the scene of the accident, going back to their home, seeing their belongings, seeing something (however insignificant it may be) that triggers those feelings of despair, sadness, and pain.

We live in a world surrounded by pain. Every day people face situations such as these. Every day, people lose loved ones to senseless acts of violence, negligence, or disregard. Innocent people’s lives are cut short because someone acted impulsively, or simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. People lose their lives because of who they are, what they believe, or what they look like. Our world is a tragic, broken place. We can bury our heads in the sand, disregard what is said on the news, or try to avoid it altogether, but it doesn’t mean that people aren’t experiencing this hurt. We can ignore it, but it doesn’t change the reality. We tend to ignore these hurts until they smack us in the face where we can’t ignore them.

Life is hard, especially when you have to keep plugging on with your daily life while muddling through loss. Death stops for no one and nothing. So what do you do?

I can’t answer this question. I wish I could, but I can’t. Everyone copes with death differently, and I’m not about to toss out advice I probably have no business giving. For me, I handle death the best by viewing it through eyes of faith, so my advice would be along those lines. Here I come back to my original point with the passage from Ecclesiastes, that there is a season for things, and God’s hand guides it all, both good and bad. We don’t get to pick when God’s will unfolds. We don’t get to choose what God wants to happen. We are given these seasons of life, and we have to make the best of them, reacting to them as gracefully as possible.

My heart breaks for this wonderful man’s family. I was confirmed with one of his daughters, so I had the opportunity to know him personally and learn much about our Catholic faith from him. He truly was a gem. He was a humble servant of the Lord who touched many lives during his time on this earth. We lost a great man this weekend. Now, all we can do is imitate his life and try to do as he did and strive daily to make the world a better, more loving, more peaceful place than it was the day before. Hug your loved ones extra tonight. Let them know they’re loved by you. Be at peace with all in your life. This life is fleeting, and we never know when God will call us home.

Peace to you all, wherever you may be. If you would, say a few extra prayers for those mourning the loss of this great man, I know it’d mean the world to them.