Monday, December 17, 2007


I've written before about my belief that the meaning in tragedy is the meaning we create from it. Again, I own the fact that I have never experienced real tragedy; I've never suffered any serious losses, no one I love deeply has ever died, except grandparents who's time "had come". I write about this with awareness that someone who has suffered real loss, anyone who is experiencing real tragedy could think my statements as naive and trivializing of their pain. I certainly do not intent to minimize the significance of any person's experiences. What I suspect, though, is that when people look for meaning in loss, their actions are the meaning. Like when the women created MADD after their children were killed by drunk drivers or that Brady guy who lobbied for stricter gun control after he and Reagan were shot. I'm not saying that every person has to do something on a National level, the meaning could be as simple as learning to be kind to one's neighbors or to recycle or to buy the Christmas goose for Tiny Tim's family.

A couple of weeks ago someone shared a story during Meeting for Worship. This is a Friend whom I like very much. I've often had the sense that this Friend's sharing is not, shall we say, Divinely inspired; rather, more like things this Friend is emotionally moved to share. The story this Friend shared was something easily dismissed, seemingly not spiritually rooted but it lead me to think, then meditate and then pray about, something which I would not usually have in my awareness in Meeting for Worship. I was able to create meaning from his message through the context of my own experiences and the Grace of God.

There have been one or two occasions in which a person has spoken in Meeting for Worship from a place that seemed very rooted in ego, sharing a speech which was obviously prepared in advance and centered around something pretty esoteric. In years past, I've gotten really annoyed when this has happened and I've been in Worship with others when the whole vibe was annoyance at such happening. Lately, though, it's as though our whole meeting congregation has been able to find meaning in these messages, allowing the message to take on a weight and depth that I don't think the original speaker could possibly have imagined. Sometimes, the meaning has nothing to do with the words that were spoken so much as a general feeling of love and support for the need of the speaker to feel really listened to. We have taken the situation and put it in the context of a nurturing community and made something beautiful and hopeful and unifying.

So, I'm trying to see more things in this context. What meaning do I create from any given experience? Yesterday, my teen and I had a fight. What did I learn from that? What do I take from it? What positive chance can I carry forward? What is the meaning I take from this moment? What meaning to I give to the next?

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