I admit it. Working at a pediatric hospital has on occasion prompted me to yell at God. I am happy to report that not once have I been struck by lightning. And I have never been blown over by a hard wind. After years of work on myself, I have learned not to blame God for messes that humans have created. But I believe it is still okay to yell and scream when we are in pain.
I wish I could have conveyed that to Dan, my late husband, before he took his life. I’ll probably never understand what made a seemingly happy man gas himself in the family car. It had to be awful for him to leave his precious 10-year-old son. He left a letter condemning himself for his imagined sins. But they were not real.
Had I known anything about his suffering, me, the wife who held his hand when we fell asleep at night, I would have taken that same hand and said, “Look up at the ceiling and share your pain.” I would have stood by his side while he yelled and cried for help until he was comforted by God’s unspeakable love. I would have looked in my husband’s eyes and said, “I see the innocent Christ Child in you, my beloved. You don’t have to destroy yourself.” I never got the chance to tell Dan these things, although I think he understands it now. Sometimes I think he is even whispering to me, “If you only knew how much you are loved by God, it would break your heart. It would break your heart wide open and you would be free.” I cannot go back in time and tell the flesh-and-blood Dan that I saw holy innocence dwelling in him. I saw it when he stood radiant at the pulpit of our church, reading the liturgy as an elder. I saw it when he carved a pumpkin with his son and when he smiled lovingly at me across the dining room table. Maybe I did not yet have the wisdom to convey this. Suddenly it all seems so long ago.
But I can tell my co-workers and my brother and my parents and my friends. I can tell the woman who rings up my groceries and looks exhausted near the end of her shift. Maybe I won’t go around conveying this sacred message the same way to everyone. The cashier doesn’t know me from Eve, so hearing that I see her divine innocence would probably create more alarm than comfort. But the kid in me can wink playfully at the kid in her. I can send her love while she is handing me my change. And the loving woman inside of me can smile warmly and convey that she is good and beautiful and divine.
She is all of those wonderful things. We are all of those things, whether we’re yelling or not.
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