“Loss is nothing else but change, and change is nature’s delight.” — Marcus Aurelius
I see a mountain, and wonder how it got there, and why it is shaped as it is. Why are some mountains slate gray, and others light, or even red? Why are some spiked, others rounded? How could the continents split and form the map we have today — and what will it look like in a million years?
The annual cycle of nature is easier to comprehend. We know the leaves on trees will die in a glorious blaze of color, and that flowers will wilt and die, a sad reminder of their beauty. Snow will fall, the sun will glow. Those changes we can anticipate. Renewal and rebirth.
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” Joseph Campbell
In human life, nothing is certain. I often give thanks to God or my forebears that I was born in the United States. I can’t imagine the constant suffering people is the poorest and unruliest parts of the world withstand. I try to live the American dream, and that’s not a big house, and flashy car, but believing and supporting what the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and even the Emancipation Proclamation, intended. We are a special country, a special place to live.
This doesn’t mean we are equally blessed or that we are free from suffering. People we love die, others we care about struggle with disease — cancer, addiction, unpronounceable illnesses. Even people who look normal on the outside live with depression, loneliness, loss of a child or spouse. We are not what we seem; each of us has cried, struggled, tried to bargain with God, sought oblivion in one way or another, lost the will to live knowing that, yes, the “worst” can happen.
I have lived through a couple of these “worst” things (though losing a child is the worst I can imagine and it hasn’t happened to me), and have walked through the mire of recovery and readjustment. I have been transformed. I have been changed by every significant event in my life. Joy overwhelmed me at the birth of each child — especially the first after I had lost two to miscarriages. By the grace of God, I overcame addiction and I am constantly aware of what a blessing it is to have been unshackled by a heavenly hand. I lost my father at age 14 — to suicide from bipolar disorder. I have suffered and I have survived — sometimes with gratitude, sometimes just with the passage of time.
I am one of those people who espouses “everything happens for a reason” adding that we just don’t know that reason, and only in another life beyond death will it be revealed. There is no earthly explanation, except roll of the dice, but then why is God willing, if he is asked, to walk with us through the darkest times and hold our hand, push us back from the edge, reveal that we still have a life to be lived with a purpose? Some days I struggle with that purpose, but never am I ungrateful for the experiences life has brought me for they have made me who I am and deepened my understanding, compassion, and self-knowledge. I’ve even had a glimpse of the God of my understanding.
My transformation is not a slow as that of the earth, but it is ongoing and as certain.
“Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.” Rick Warren