This is the kind of month that has me asking where or if there is a God.
My mind attacked me last week, the worst episode of mania followed by depression that I've had in years. I've been so stable that I'd forgotten how bad it can be. It's not good when you're in an apartment on the 22nd floor and the step out the window looks enticing. But I've fought through worse before, and will get through this.
But one thing my condition always makes me question is whether there really is a supernatural being who cares anything about what goes on here on earth. It's not that I question the existence of God, just the idea that we Christians have that he somehow cares about our little lives.
I have the same reaction to several other things that have happened in the past couple of weeks, things that have hit close to home.
A girl in our small town, Phylicia Barnes, went missing the day after Christmas. She was just 16, and disappeared while visiting her family in Baltimore for the holidays, stepped out to get something to eat, apparently, and vanished. She was a senior at my childrens' school. The school has rallied around, even held a prayer vigil.
My oldest son, who is a talented actor and was in acting class with her, didn't participate in the vigil. I asked him why and he said such things are designed to make us feel better, but he didn't believe they helped her. I have to say I agree with him.
I see what happens to people, on the small and the large scale, and I can't help but question the purpose. The answer is the answer God gave to Job, who are you to question me? In essence, there is no purpose. Sorry, that's an unsatisfactory answer.
My daughter, though, offered a sweet prayer for her this morning in church. And I couldn't help but hope her faith somehow made a difference--some kind of difference that is beyond my ken.
We say our little praryers, but the world remains a place in which an innocent 16-year-old is consigned to an uncertain, but horrifyingly uncertain, fate; where my wife's mother, a devout and kind woman, is left to her last years suffering from diabetes and Alzheimers and Parkinson's and my kind friend from church battles cancer, and I--who am not a good person as they are good people--battle with my own mind to find and cling to the blessings I have.
Would it be better--I know it would be easier, certainly--just to embrace the notion that there is no God? That God is a fairy tale we tell ouselves to fill the awesome, frightening emptiness of the universe. But perhaps its my upbringing. I can't go that far. And somehow, I see that as a coward's way out.
I can only say that the answers I have found are unsatisfactory, entirely unsatisfactory, and I am left clinging to the fragile frayed thread of an old faith and turning to those I love for comfort, knowing I deserve none.