The birds are singing. The promise of new life springing up around me. Then I read the newspaper. Grieved by the horrific story of a mother abusing and killing her child, cruelty of the worst kind. I cry out to God. The joy seems sucked out of the world. I feel naive, unaware of the incredible evil in my home town. With a sense of helplessness, hopelessness settles in my heart. What should a person do? What should I do?
I allow myself to grieve. Someone should grieve for the little toddler who was killed by someone who should have loved and protected him. But I cannot stay in that place of grief and outrage. In reality, I cannot change those people’s lives. I pray, believing prayer changes things, but I don’t know them and can’t make sense of it. These situations remind me of World War II and the unimaginable atrocities committed by people to other human beings. Things like that are still happening today. Sadness.
How to cope? A few authors who have “been there” bring words of wisdom and hope:
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
One of my favorite quotes that often comes to mind is:
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” along with that,
“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”
– Anne Frank
Considering Anne Frank’s quote, I realize it connects with what I planned to work on next, a guest post for Bernice Hopper’s next online Art Journaling Challenge in May. After a blustery rain, the sun began to shine and I go for a walk, noticing and photographing the beauty at my feet, the kind of beauty that is easily passed by. Pouring out my heart in prayer as I walk, I can’t help but feel a twinge of wonder sneaking back in as I drink in the beauty of the flowering bulbs. Life after death. Spring following winter. I pass other walkers, greeting, commenting on the beauty of the much appreciated Pacific Northwest sunshine. I am reminded there are still people who love and do good things, making a difference for the better in the world. Hope begins to rise.
The next day I revisit my photos and the theme of “Walk” in my journal page. I am thankful for the time to work on it. Along with my feet, and the quotes Bernice provided, I include some painting of the smallest flowers on my walk. I leave room for more quotes and whatever else asks to go on my journal page later.
Throughout these days I am constantly reminded that the key is love. It’s the only possible solution to our problems. I ask God for help. I feel like curling up like a potato bug. But in faith I step out with more intention; Bringing a meal to a friend who is ill, writing a comfort card, making a phone call to tell someone I love them. Making space for quietness, for listening to God, and taking time to love myself.
“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
God loves each of us with the kind of love Viktor talks about in the above quote. During this season of Lent, I am reminded of how much God loves us. He became a human like us, experiencing the full range of human life, even with unjust suffering inflicted by others and hideous death. He did it for us. And then came His Resurrection, triumphing over sin and death. Hope, love, forgiveness, and the freedom to choose life. Jesus came that we may have life and live it abundantly. He says,
“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” – John 10:9-11 NAS
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4 NAS
– Valerie Sjodin