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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Meaning After

Birthdays are on my mind. My family has a lot of spring-born folk so
this is a time when there are phone calls and cards flying around.
It is easy to believe that it makes a difference in which season one
is born. Think of astrology's insights about people born "under" one
sign or another. Or that poem about how "Monday's child is fair of
face, Tuesday's child is full of grace, etc."

Perhaps you are someone who has found value in these observations? I
know that there was a time in my life when reading the daily
horoscope for Gemini (my "birth sign") in the Globe would interest me.

Do you check yours? Have you found them to be insightful, helpful,
or true?

Actually, those kernels of advice interested me most in the rear view mirror, as it were.  I would look at yesterday’s paper, at the day I had lived, and ask myself where during the day this particular kernel have been true.

For me, you see, the meaning comes after the event. It is after an
event that I look for how and what the event will mean in my life.
It is how I have come to terms with the folk wisdom that says,
"everything happens for a reason." I assert that this is true – but
only in retrospect. In other words, I don't think there is a
predictive, planned engine or god who figures out that a flat tire
tomorrow morning is just what Brad needs or the fate of the world
needs to have happen. For me, the meaning comes after the event.

For example, we – we humans – have recently been visited by
earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We were thrown about like
playthings and our boats and buildings flipped and flattened like
they were toys too. We lost family members and friends and places
where we lived and worked and played. We, some of us, were killed.
The event did not happen to us so that some meaningful thing will
happen in the world. That's not the way the earthquake works and it
is not the way our God works. Yet, from these events, we will learn,
we will be changed, and we will create meaning. Stay tuned, there
will be meaning after the event.

Like your precious life, my brothers and sisters. Your precious life
is full of meaning – in story and wisdom and potential and
accomplishment! All this meaning came after your birth day, right?
So I give thanks that we are in each others' lives, connected across
time and space. I give thanks that in the midst of even the saddest
of events, birthdays still occur. May we all find meaning and joy in
these recurring celebrations of life. …and cake.