From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
When all the words have been written, and all the phrases have been spoken, the great mystery of life will still remain. We may map the terrains of our lives, measure the farthest reaches of the universe, but no amount of searching will ever reveal for certain whether we are all children of chance or part of a great design.
And who among us would have it otherwise? Who would wish to take the mystery out of the experience of looking into a newborn infant’s eyes? Who would not feel in violation of something great if we had knowledge of what has departed when we stare into the face of one who has died? These are the events that made us human, that define the distance between the stars and us.
Still, this life is not easy. Much of its mystery is darkness. Tragedies occur, injustices exist. Bad things befall good people and sufferings are visited upon the innocent. To live we must take the lives of other species, to survive we must leave some of our brothers and sisters by the side of the road. We are prisoners of time, victims of biology, hostages of our own capacity to dream.
At times it all seems too much, impossible to accept.
We must stand against this. The world is a great mysterious place, and it’s possibilities are infinite, governed only by what our hearts can conceive. If we incline our hearts towards the darkness, we will see darkness. If we incline them toward the light, we will see the light.
Those of great heart have always known this. They have understood that, as honorable as it is to see the wrong and try to correct it, a life well lived must somehow celebrate the promise that life provides. The darkness at the limits of our knowledge; the darkness that sometimes seem to surround us is merely a way to make us reach beyond certainty, to make our lives a witness to hope, a testimony to possibility, an urge toward the best and the most honorable impulses that our hearts can conceive.
It is not hard. There is in each of us, no matter how humble, a capacity for love. Even if our lives have not taken the course we had envisioned, even if we are less than the shape of our dreams, we are part of the human family. Somewhere, in the most inconsequential corners of our lives, is the opportunity for love.
If I am blind, I can run my hand across the back of a shell and celebrate beauty. If I have no legs, I can sit in quiet wonder before the restless murmurs of the sea. If I am wounded in spirit, I can reach out my hand to those who are hurting. If I am lonely, I can go among those who are desperate for love. There is no tragedy or injustice so great, no life so small and inconsequential, that we cannot bear witness to the light in the quiet acts and hidden moments of our days.
And who can say which of these acts and moments will make a difference? The universe is vast and is a magical membrane of meaning, stretching across time and space, and it is not given to us to know her secrets and her ways. Perhaps we were placed here to meet the challenge of a single moment; perhaps the touch we give will cause the touch that will change the world.