When the tornadoes struck the southern states last week, they took many lives. Among them was my one of my older cousins, Tina, whom I hadn't seen in years. I barely knew her, but still, she was a life lost - she was family.
I don't know much about Tina, except on her facebook page, I see some of her artwork posted in pictures. She painted brilliantly colored pictures. She seemed to march to the beat of her own drum. I heard about her occasionally through the years, that she was a kind of troubled soul wandering from place to place, restless, searching for something bigger to be a part of. Seeing some of her artwork, it's evident she expressed this vividly in color and images.
Our family doesn't really know much about her faith in God, but in the "Religious views" box on her facebook page, she'd posted this quote: "It's always bigger, it's always better... than anything our puny brains can imagine."
Tina was onto something. Something huge.
In those words lies the faith journey of life with God. But also, my daily choice between hope and despair. I was talking with a friend today at a coffee shop, and he mentioned the fact that, here in western culture and in the Church, we're not all that prepared for life to be sad. We're groomed for it not to be and do everything in our power to avoid sadness. Not everyone in the Church would admit to having to choose between hope and despair, but it requires no explanation to those kindred souls who have experienced some of life's tragedies and yet still hold onto faith in God. Instead of spiritualizing it away or sweeping it under the carpet, we've got to be honest and take the mask off. There is hope, and there is despair. Both are very real. And for some seasons in life, each day is a conscious effort of one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, choosing hope or choosing despair. Choosing to believe that there's always bigger and better beyond what our puny brains can imagine (and I'm not talking about cars or technology or jobs or menu items). With God, the best is always yet to come. But I have to choose to believe that every day.
So I want to pause and say thank you to Tina, who managed to teach me something about faith in her own doubts and searching.
Tina, I hope you are painting murals in heaven that are brilliant beyond what our puny brains can imagine.