Friday, August 8, 2008

Connections to Random Events

Summertime and the living is easy, except that the news is full of random death and madness. Yes, it's random, but there are connections to me.

It starts with a UU church in Knoxville invaded by a madman with a gun shooting parishioners attending a children's theater production. I hear it on the radio and start the rationalization process, the distancing process, before I even get all the facts.

He is mad, I think, the same thing happens in post offices -- its just chance that its a UU church. But I am a UU, and I can't imagine a safer place than my church.

Next a terrible plane crash on the Oregon coast where a light plane crashes into a home filled with a vacationing, extended family. Its bad enough the empathy I feel because of the entire innocence of the victims. They aren't taking risks by playing on logs in the surf. They are sleeping in vacation bedrooms, eating breakfast and getting shoes on for a walk on the beach. It turns out that I have a long ago connection to the family. I knew their brother, a beautiful young man who died twenty-five years ago in a climbing accident. The facts and the sorrow of it just sit in my mind, unexplained and terrible.

Then another crash, a helicopter crash taking down nine summer firefighters. They are young and vital men with their whole lives ahead of them. They have no direct connection to me this time except they are from Oregon, but it echos and amplifies the earlier tragedies.

I meditate this morning saying a passage I've been using from the Tao te ching. While I meditate I am aware of my mind trying to find an explanation for all this random death and violence. I also know its a cheat. Meditation isn't the same as thinking. Rumination is a classic distraction.

There is a line in my passage about how a being "takes on a physical body, let's circumstances complete it." Although the Tao is full of compassion for the whole world, it feels remote and not a comfort. I can't reconcile this old wisdom about the cycle of life with the immediacy and lose of all that young life. Sometimes there is no explaination.

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