Newtown, Boston and now Moore force us to confront issues we often prefer to ignore. But seeing the devastation of the tornado that swept through Oklahoma on Monday and trying to explain that level of loss to ourselves and our children make us face the fact that life is fragile.
We’d like to ignore this inconvenient fact, this fragility of life. Some ignore it by sky-diving or bungee jumping or participating in other extreme sports. “Hah! See. I have cheated death.” Others fight this fact by diving into medical research to find cures for incurable diseases. Others by trying to create stronger safe rooms that can withstand the fury of an EF-5 tornado.
I think on some level, we all try to deny this fragility of life by simply getting out of bed each day and going about our normal activities.
But how do we respond when the evil in humankind (Newtown and Boston) or the power of nature force us to stop and look head on at how quickly life can change? Some travel to the site to help physically. Some donate money. Some read news stories looking for nuggets of hope, such as the news of a lower death toll than originally reported in the tornado’s aftermath and videos like this interview with a woman who is reunited with her dog during a news interview.
Those of us who are believers pray. We turn to God for answers even where we know there are no easy answers. We trust that though life is fragile here in this earthly place, there is a heaven where life endures, where cancer doesn’t grow and kill, where murder never happens, where tornados never tear communities apart.
I’m not Catholic, but there are times that I deeply appreciate the Catholic church’s rosaries and candles and other physical reminders of God calling us to prayer. After all, in prayer, God can strengthen us. In prayer, we acknowledge our fragile lives. In prayer, we remember that nothing can separate us from God.
I leave you today with images from San Jose Mission in San Antonio, Texas. This beautiful place brought me peace on a hot, baking day this past weekend, and I hope the pictures will be for you an invitation to prayer.