this month's collab for Jaunt: puppet on a string.
I Love You As You Are... And It's Pandemonium
ambience courtesy of Elvis Costello...
the phrase sparks images of marionettes on a stage, in a play they can't control. unseen hands move them about, anonymous voices put words in their inanimate mouths, and the action unfolds with no input from the wooden characters.
is this what God does with us? some days i think so. some days i see no other explanation. because for me, there always has to be a reason, even if it's one that we can't see. i can't believe in chaos. chaos, not knowing, makes me nervous. and yet, look around us. there is chaos everywhere. where is the reason behind that? there is a beautiful and terrible chaos in nature. we can explain and tame some of it with science, which gives us a small window of understanding. and yet there is so much we can't understand or predict. entire towns are wiped out in mudslides, homes are destroyed by forest fires, lives are taken by cancer and AIDS. nature is always more powerful than we are.
this doesn't stop us from searching and questioning. we track storms and try to predict where they will land. we watch the behavior of volcanoes, and hope that we can guess when these living creatures will belch out streams of molten earth. we pick apart cells in laboratories, hoping to find the keys to the kingdom. and science has certainly given us many gifts. antibiotics alone have saved many lives. and yet, even today, we don't fully understand how the brain processes visual images. we have an idea, but we don't know.
and there is so much human conflict. we are in conflict with nature, and with ourselves. look around, anywhere in the world, and you see people defending their beliefs to the death, their own or their sworn enemies. Northern Ireland, the Middle East, the Taliban, Serbia... do i even need to make a list? where does this come from, this bitterness? why do we end up thinking that we have The Answer, and make others die for not agreeing? what makes any one of us more right than the next person?
and yet, paradoxically, this very chaos that some days makes me question if we aren't just players on someone's twisted stage is the thing that gives me faith. sounds odd, doesn't it? but it's true.
on days where things are going badly, i'll generally hear from one or another of my friends that God Has a Sick Sense of Humor. it makes me laugh, in the moment. it allows you to shift the responsibility to some unseen force, and feel better about what's happening. but i can't really believe in that statement. it doesn't ring true. a force for good and creation would not harm and destroy.
well, but what about the flood?, you say. what about God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son? what about all those other stories of a cruel and demanding God? those are stories, i say. and they are stories from one perspective. every belief system has their version of them, just as they have their stories of the Creator's benevolence. they are stories, told and passed along by and written by people. not that there isn't truth in them - there is. but we are human, and fallible, and we crave explanations. the stories are what we weave to explain our selves and our world.
if you disagree with what i just said, so be it. you are more than entitled to your own beliefs and opinions. i wouldn't try to change your mind. i'm only trying to explain my self. and it's all a work in progress.
look, i'm not doing this well. let me back up a bit. there is a reason, or some set of reasons, for us being here, the fact that our universe exists. i'm okay with not knowing the reason. well, not okay, but i can accept it. i accept it on faith, in God, whatever that might mean. i believe that we were created out of love and benevolence, and the only strings that manipulate our behavior are the ones we ourselves have created. it's not that we're being manipulated by a cruel Creator. it's more that we were gifted with the intelligence to question and think, and sometimes we abuse that gift.
does that make sense? i'm rereading what i just wrote, and wanting to make it clearer, but i can't. the idea of faith is blindingly simple, and ridiculously complicated, all at once. and maybe that's where we fall down. maybe it doesn't need words or theories or explanations. but we try to wrap all those things around what should come from the heart. and in doing so, we create little cages that keep us from connecting with other people. we become so determined to get everyone to join us in our cage that we fail to see the doors to understanding are wide open, right in front of us.
and that is what gives me faith. the beauty is there for us to accept, if we choose to see it. as the Unicorn said, 'Further up and further in!'