Life as Unplanned Mystery

Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” How often do we find ourselves struggling to understand and live our own story?

In one split-second during a routine horse-riding jump Christopher Reeve’s life was transformed from that of an active athlete/actor to a quadriplegic, then activist on behalf of people with spinal injuries. He put a face on the issue of stem-cell research, moving it from an impersonal ethical dilemma to a known individual who will be affected by the outcome of our ethical considerations. He made remarkable progress and then died of an infection while continuing to amaze the medical profession. We’re all a bit stunned because we were rooting for him to beat the odds. None of us pretends to understand this tragedy, even while looking back on it.

To Kierkegaard we might add John Lennon who said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

Friday, my wife had surgery and I am now living life in the context of her recovery, which gratefully is going well thus far, however, even in the best of circumstances it is challenging to reorganize and meet all my deadlines while trying to keep up with the basics of her usual daily tasks, AND at the same time be attentive to her care. The doctor who performed her surgery is traveling back and forth to California between surgeries so he can be with his son, a 26-year-old who became paralyzed during a surfing accident this summer. How does the surgeon go on with his life while carrying such a personal burden I wondered?

All our daily encounters take place in the context of people coping with personal, often private struggles, and we read ithe daily news in the referential setting of our personal situation in life. Who knows how far that goes in explaining the snippiness of the clerk at the store, the glumness of the student in class or widespread disinterest in the Presidential debates?

My own concentration on matters of faith has intensified as I’ve gotten older, because the love, mercy and presence of God is the only constant in an otherwise unpredictable and mysterious life lived forward and understood backwards, lived while I was making other plans.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in October 11, 2004 by | No Comments »

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