Sometimes, if there is any good, it is a good I create out of what I’m given.
On this day (May 6) in1998, I lost my father to depression and suicide. Decades of having a false gospel heaped upon his shoulders, one in which the “bottom line” mattered more than his soul, had finally broken him. For months afterward, just about all I saw and felt was his loss. Which is to say, all I saw was my loss of him. For months, I was almost exclusively sad and angry.
Like so many others with whom I have shared that same terrible space, I asked “Why?” a lot. That question reaped no reward and moved me nowhere closer to peace.
Here’s a hopeful truth: The question “Why did this happen?” can be replaced by the better question “What am I going to do with this?” This is part of why I think creativity matters so much in every day life (rather than only in the hands of “professional” artist-types).
if there is any good
it is a good I create
out of what I’m given.
Here’s an uncomfortable truth: Every piece of work I’ve given myself to since that day is the fruit of seeds planted in that dark soil; from my advocacy on behalf children growing up in poverty to my unwavering belief that what you and I create in love matters eternally, regardless of its financial benefits. I can trace all of my work back to that morning. Every bit of it.
One of the thumbprints of God in a human life is the capacity and desire to build something new when something else breaks or goes away. Near the heart of that capacity and desire in me is a hopeful defiance of the seemingly implacable laws of spiritual, social and emotional fatalism.
No, I will not become “just like my father.”
No, I will not give in to the same temptations of pride and utility.
No, I will not simply settle for the circumstances and history handed to me.
I will make new things from what I’m given.
I will let my weakness be an invitation to trust people who love me.
I will become something new.
I will be made into someone new.
I will preach and proclaim, with every bit of myself I can consciously harness, that newness is possible and that when we don’t know what it looks like to get to the other side of some horrible darkness, that might just mean we get to help shape what the other side looks like.
“You were scattered at the devil’s feet
I was standing on his neck.
so i carried with me everything of yours that I had left
to say what broke you would not break me.
I am stronger than you now.
I am a father with no father
But I will not let my grandson down.”
– from the song “33”