Tuesday, June 5, 2012



I have recently come to realize just how many books are born of pain and the search for reasonable explanations.  Browse the bookstores and see how many memoirs, autobiographies, self-help books and how-to books are born from the pain of the author.  I venture to say that even great books from literary giants - stories about crime, stories of war, stories of passion - are the result of a writer's search for answers and understanding.

Bumper stickers and billboards often proclaim "Jesus is the Answer", but even for those of us with a deep faith in God and Jesus, the answers are not that simple.  How do we reconcile the idea of a loving, all-powerful God, with the chaos of our world?

So we search.  We read the bible, we study science, we search the history books.  We join a new group, visit a new church, try a new religion, investigate new philosophies.  Maybe the answer is here.   Maybe the answer is there.

I just finished reading a book called "Devotion", a memoir by Dani Shapiro chronicling her search for answers.  Dani is a successful writer, happily married, with a bright young son, but as she looked back on her life she had questions -- questions about her father's strict Jewish Orthodox observances and her own Jewish upbringing; questions about her painful relationship with her mother, and her son's long battle with Infantile Spasms, an almost always fatal disease.  

In her quest for truth she found truths, "pieces of wisdom" in Christianity, in Buddhism and in her own Jewish heritage. But her search continues. "I can only know what I know now." she concluded.  "Hopefully we'll know more an hour from now. And Tonight. And tomorrow. And next year."

Searching for answers - trying to make sense of our lives, of our purpose, trying to make sense of the pain we feel and the suffering we see in this world - is at the very core of our nature.  It is part of what makes us human. 

Some believe that there are no answers.  I believe there is an answer, an "Absolute Truth" that we call God.  But I do not believe that any one religion, any one book, any one individual in any one lifetime can ever know or contain all of that truth. 

So I hope that we all will continue to search.  And as we find pieces of wisdom to live by and to share, we will make this world a better place.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Goals for my life

Today I came across one of my journals from 1990.  On July 14th I wrote what I consider to be the eight beatitudes for my life:           
            if I can make someone laugh
            if I can help someone feel better about themselves
            if I can inspire someone to do something good, something creative
            if I can open a new door in someone's life
            if I can discover and share a new idea
            if I can turn on a new light in someone's mind
            if I can help someone to love, to recapture love, to be aware of love
            if I can touch someone with love ...
                        then I will be happy!
Although I am in very different circumstances now than in 1990, these words still define what I consider to be the ideal for my life.  So today I print them out, paste them to the wall, and promise myself that every day I will accomplish at least one of my personal beatitudes.