This is the cover of a fantastic book, so I've heard, and I would love to read it some day. It is a moving memoir of Joan Didion and her year of picking up the pieces after her husband, and friend, of forty years suddenly dies. I did hear a review of it a year or so ago on NPR. But I use this title as a platform to explore a slightly different concept.
The thing that brought this to my mind this week is my passport ordeal. I shared it on our church's prayer chain (a chain I rarely make use of). It was most interesting last Thursday night when I also shared my saga with our Bible study group. The immediate responses (as could easily been anticipated) were either a) "Maybe God is trying to tell you not to go," to b) "It sounds like Satan is attacking you."
I've made comments before how, as part of my post-Evangelical persona, that I really don't want to live with superstitions anymore. I think it is very limiting. I mean, if the old Evangelical Mike was in my present situation I would have pulled the plug due to "lack of peace." I now see that "lack of peace" in more rational terms of anxiety related to the problems that I face. So now, I have the motivation to keep fighting for something that I want and need to do even if it scares the hell out of me.
I do prefer to live rationally rather than with the perspective that there is a demon or angel behind each bush.
With that said, how do we live rationally and not give up the magic of life?
I can remember about 6 years ago I was praying hard about a second house that we could not sell. I had built a house in Houghton, Michigan and then I took a job at Mayo and put the house on the market . . . expecting it to sell in a few months. We ended up owning the two homes for ten years and it was about to bankrupt us. I had to work two jobs for three years to keep us afloat. We only had "showings" of that house about once every 4-6 months.
One day we had such a showing and we were waiting to hear from our Realtor. She had told us it was a very positive showing. I remember walking on a nearby trail at the top of cliffs over-looking Puget Sound. I was praying, more like begging, God to sell that house. I knew the weather was right for a rainbow as it was sprinkling a little rain and the sun had just come out. I prayed, "God if this is going to be the sell, please show me a rainbow."
I got to the top of this bluff and looked in the direction of the sun. Looking down our chain of islands towards Mount Rainer there where patches of rain were softly moving across the hills. I looked behind me and saw a huge double rainbow. I felt some peace.
Our home did finally sell and I can't honestly remember if it resulted from that showing or not. Do I now believe that God had sent those rainbows? No . . . not really. I mean I knew that the weather was perfect for such an event. It was a rational thing. But I do believe that God created this beautiful work in which we live. He also created the optics and physics that allow rainbows to form. God also created something within each of us . . . that part which a rainbow can stir. But do I believe that God created that rainbow for me on that particular day to communicate something about a house in Hougton, Michigan? Nah. I don't think so.
So I was thinking, how do we avoid the superstition that can imprison us . . . but still have that magical spirit that gives us the spice of life? I need to think about this a lot more.