by Laura Crum
Sometimes my life seems filled with magic. Sometimes, however, it seems endlessly sad. I am not sure that these two aspects will ever be reconciled. A paradox. And if there is one thing I know, it’s that truth resides in paradox. Every truth I ever came face to face with was/is essentially a contradiction.
A good god allows innocents to suffer in this world. Free choice exists, but outside of time everything is happening now—in an eternal present-- so your choice is already made. Our spirits may transcend death and go on to a better existence, but we all struggle to avoid this ending of our earthly lives and consider it a tragedy when we lose a loved other to death. (No matter what we profess to believe about God and heaven and the afterlife…etc.) So yeah, it doesn’t surprise me that magic and sorrow seem to go hand in hand.
I still struggle with this. Our human minds don’t deal with paradox very well. We want a logical solution—a truth we can understand. I’m afraid that I think that it doesn’t work that way. But whatever insights I have don’t help me very much at times. When I am faced with what seems like pointless suffering, I more or less despair.
As in the fact that last week my little dog, Star, had some sort of aberrant reaction that caused her to go into shock. I came home to find her like this—I have no idea what happened. She was safely in the dog run with her companion, Cleo, she had no marks of injury, no signs of stings or signs that she had fought with the other dog. She was just dazed and staggering and out of it, with pale gums. I thought she was dying. My heart just about broke.
I rushed her to the vet, and after an eight hour ordeal of treating her for shock and doing diagnostic blood work, she seemed OK. But there was no consensus on what caused the problem and if it would happen again. I am grateful for her apparent recovery and taking the best care of her that I can, but my heart is still very heavy. On top of everything else I have to bear, it seems like a gratuitous insult. Why?
There is no answer to this. “Why” is something others are asking with far greater cause. I think of Nepal and I am aware that this “why” is universal. Why must we suffer because of these unexpected, unexplained events? Why? What possible good does our suffering do? I do not know, I do not know.
A quote from Rumi:
I said: What about my heart?
God said: Tell me what you hold inside it.
I said: Pain and sorrow.
God said: …Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
This sounds very pretty written down, but I am here to tell you that it is a hard truth to live. Pain and sorrow…
But hand in hand with this sadness is the magic. Yes, magic—or magik, as Andy might say. All the signs I have been given that he is still with me past death. I will tell one story here—one of many that I have experienced.
I have a pair of ear rings that belonged to my grandmother. Ever since she died and left them to me they are the only ear rings I have worn. They are small, plain gold hoops, they look like a pair of wedding rings.
Shortly after Andy died I lost one of these ear rings. I searched and searched for it but could not find it. Eventually I gave up. I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and said to Andy (I talk to Andy all the time). “Its OK. It doesn’t matter. I will wear one ear ring for the rest of my life as a sign that I’m half of a pair.”
And in that instant I looked down and there, on the floor, under the counter, was the ear ring. This seemed pretty magical to me. I felt that Andy was returning it to me and telling me that we are still together, that I am whole, part of a pair. We are still a couple. That what appears to be lost is not lost.
OK—a couple of weeks ago I went to the acupuncturist. She manipulated my ears as part of the treatment, and I remember thinking that I ought to check and make sure my ear rings are there before I leave. But I didn’t.
I ran a couple of errands afterward, went home and got my son, got in a different vehicle and took my boy to the golf course. We went in the snack shack and the pro shop. And finally, getting ready to go home, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw I was missing an ear ring.
I called the acupuncturist’s office—they couldn’t find it. I searched both my vehicles, looked all through my clothes, looked everywhere at home—under the bed, on all the floors. No ear ring. I had to think it had fallen off in one of several parking lots…etc. I felt sure it was lost for good this time.
Once again I stood in the bathroom, where Andy had returned it to me before. I said, “If you want to give it back again that’s great. But if not it’s OK—I’ll wear just one.”
The second after I said that, I heard a “tink.” I KNEW what that tink was. It was the ear ring hitting the tile floor of the bathroom. And I have to admit a sort of thrill went through me.
I said, “I heard that.”
I got down on my hands and knees and looked (again) around the floor. And there was the ear ring, under the counter, where it had not been a minute ago.
Now the obvious explanation is that it was caught on my clothing and fell off in that particular moment. But still…I had searched my clothes several times, not to mention I had walked all over many different places for a couple of hours, gotten in and out of vehicles, and had just been on my hands and knees searching under the bed and on the floors. And it falls off while I’m standing perfectly still? In the second after I said those words?
Once again I felt I was being told that I was still part of a pair. That what appeared to be lost was not lost. And that Andy could both hear and respond to me.
So yeah. That’s what I choose to believe. Doesn’t matter to me if it’s all in my mind. We all choose our beliefs. I think I’ve got better evidence for mine than many do for much more conventional beliefs.
And thus I live my life in sadness and also in a magical world. Truth in paradox.