Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Switzerland circa 1953-4
"Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully," said Samuel Johnson.

In my opinion, Samuel Johnson's aphorism would be as appropriate in describing mental focus if the phrase was "he is to have his 72nd birthday" were substituted for "hanging."

I never minded birthdays until I turned 70. That day depressed me. Now I am 72 and depression has evolved into dread.

I have outlived both parents in spite of having used a wheelchair for almost 55 years and a ventilator with increasing frequency since 1987. Both my parents lived relatively disease-illness-and-accident free lives until they almost simultaneously developed cancers.

Life carries no logic, it seems.

I dread death. I dread death in spite of my spiritual belief that a soul is not extinguished because the body carrying it ceases to function. But without conflating my stupid blunderings with the struggles of a person who devoted her life to easing the pain of the poorest among us, I feel kinship with Mother Teresa, who wrote: “Where is my faith? Even deep down there is nothing but emptiness and darkness. If there be a God — please forgive me"

Life carries no logic, it's true, but I think there is a measure of logic in the faith that there is a Creator, that what we perceive from here as the universe is not some random clump of matter and energy forever expanding and contracting. To even give credence to the Big Bang and astrophysics as we understand it presently, we are left asking what was before and what lies outside the universe.

For me, even deep down beyond the emptiness and darkness, I cling to the faith the creator of all lives outside of our perception.

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