Kids Corner


From God ... With Love:
Making Sense Of It All




During the last several years, we have experienced a number of devastating natural calamaties throughout the world, like the one in Japan a couple of weeks ago.

The various forms of communication media have been replete with images of destruction and human loss. Perhaps these tragedies seem to hit all of us harder because of how readily news and graphic images are available on our televisions or the internet.

Sometimes one can't help wondering whether this is a message from "God."

Perhaps - like Sebastian's mother, Mrs. Venerable, in Tennessee Williams' play, Suddenly Last Summer - we are "looking for God ... a clear image of Him." 

And like Sebastian, who goes in search of God to the Galapagos Islands after reading Herman Melville's description of the Islands ... we too are perennially searching.

In the islands, Sebastian witnesses the annual egg-laying of the sea turtle who, as Mrs. Venerable explains, "crawls up out of the equatorial sea onto the blazing sand-beach of a volcanic island to dig a pit in the sand and deposit her eggs there ... When it is finished the exhausted female crawls back to the sea - half dead.  She never sees her offspring."

Further, Mrs. Venerable describes how says she and Sebastian witnessed "the hatching of the sea-turtles and their desperate flight to the sea ...The narrow beach was the color of caviar, all in motion. But the sky was in motion too ... full of flesh-eating birds and the noise of the birds, the horrible savage cries - the flesh-eating birds made the sky almost as black as the beach! And the sand all alive, all alive, as the hatched sea-turtles made their dash for the sea, while the birds hovered and swooped to attack and hovered and swooped to attack! They were diving down on the hatched sea-turtles, turning them over to expose their soft undersides, tearing the undersides open and rending and eating their flesh ... When he (my son Sebastian) came down the rigging he said, ‘Well, now I've  seen Him!', and he meant God."

Mrs. Venerable continues speaking of her son. "He meant that God shows a savage face to people and shouts some fierce things at them, isn't that all we see and hear of Him, now? ... Nobody seems to know why ..."

This hypnotic passage from Tennessee Williams' play, along with present day images of Nature and its devastation, seems to be replete with images of a cruel and angry God.

So, is this truly simply God tauntingly saying, "From God ... with Love", or is there more complexity in the acts of God?                   

It seems we also cry out in desperate pleading - again, like Tennessee Williams' character, Blanche Dubois, in A Streetcar Named Desire - "Truth.  I don't want truth.  I want illusion."                      

But isn't the purpose of religion to seek "Truth." Or is it simply to see things in black and white and ignore the gray areas?

When one sees the rainbow after the storm, we see the beauty but elsewhere out there in the world, that same storm has left destruction along the way. Or when one looks at the birth of a baby, one sees God in His miraculous glory, but then when one witnesses death, we see God's wrath in our sorrow.

There is a balance in the creation of God. But we cannot point this out to the people of Japan who are living through indescribable despair, albeit with such grace and dignity.

What is "God" anyway?

Is it a mere word that takes on as many confusing definitions as does the word "love", for example?

Perhaps a good definition for God is as a convenient term for what we do not know.

In Joseph Campbell's Pathways to Bliss, he writes, "One cannot define the absolute. One cannot picture it. One cannot name it." 

To borrow another wonderful line from Tennessee Williams - from his play, Suddenly Last Summer: "Somebody wrote once: 'We're all of us children in a vast kindergarten trying to spell God's name with the wrong alphabet blocks.' "

Therefore, one is forced to, and maybe should, accept with grace and dignity the entirety of God's Creation and/or Destruction as a message: "From God...With Love."

Conversation about this article

1: Sunny (Melbourne, Australia), March 24, 2011, 10:00 AM.

Sometimes one feels that 'God' is a word or an image created in our minds to be afraid of and keep our conscience clear. On one argument, one can also question that all those people whom you know who are good and do good to others as well, suffer the most. Why? Is that what God has for them? Then one ponders: if God was present, would it be the other way around?

2: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), March 24, 2011, 8:29 PM.

Gurbani repeatedly reminds us that words and pictures can't and don't capture the reality of God. Our words and art, at best, create for us a lower-case god. Congratulations, Anamai. A good read.

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Making Sense Of It All "

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