J Walking

J Walking

So random as virtually unimaginable…

Peter Gammons is one of the nation’s best writers and commentators on that sport/art/obsession known as baseball. It is worth reading his thoughts on the death of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock. Hancock was killed in a car crash – an instant and staggering tragedy. It was one of those deaths that people intellectually understand when they say that life is fragile and we don’t know what the next moment will bring. But we don’t ever really grasp that knowledge, not really. We don’t because it is too terrifying for us to contemplate. To live with the reality of our mortality, with the reality that our beliefs about God will be proven true or false because we may find ourselves standing before him, to live that way is hard. It is hard because it doesn’t allow us to just cruise through life. That is why we don’t ever really think much about death – why accidents like the one that took Josh Hancock’s life are so jarring.


Back to Gammons. He had this to say:

What happened to Josh Hancock was tragic, and it is so random that it is virtually unimaginable in a world of men who envision themselves as bulletproof and invincible. They have to, by the nature of their work.

One prayer for us all is to remember that we aren’t invincible. That is a first step, I think, towards true faith because it acknowledges the most central truth of all…first, God.

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posted May 1, 2007 at 4:07 am

Yesterday we attended the first communion of one of our god-daughters. It was sweet, noisy and we came out of church laughing at the antics of the many children in church. There were suddenly – literally – a dozen – emergency vehicles that rushed passed the church and crowd – sirens blaring as they rushed to our local mall. Someone was shooting – a mile from church – the mall where all our teens work at parttime jobs – the irony of the moment was striking. We never know what will happen. We must be as joyful and compassionate as possible in all the time we are given. To spend that time given us by God in fear or accusation seems a sin – a sin of ingratitude. Today, we pray – once again – for the victims in a random act of violence. Whether an accident as the tragic death of Hancock or a terrible act of violence (Virginia Tech or the mall shooting that happened yesterday or the workplace shooting that will happen – inevitably – somewhere – it’s all beyond our understanding. I think the lesson is always about compassion – learning it – being it and connecting it to the God of love.

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Steve Boese

posted May 1, 2007 at 5:53 am

I respect that sudden, tragic loss lies only in the realm of the unimaginable for many folks. But I’m tempted to ask them, “Didn’t you recognize that what is unimaginable to you is real life for many of us?” I know that shock is a normal part of grieving and loss. It grabs us abruptly, leaving us feeling like nothing is the same, and all of life has become surreal. Once in a while, though, I’d love to see a writer like Gammons admit that this process is as old as life itself, and that he’s not doing something new as much as becoming a part of an experience that most of our ancestors knew better than we, and a few of our neighbors have already living for years. But we don’t ever really grasp that knowledge, not really. We don’t because it is too terrifying for us to contemplate. I wasn’t in that kind of not-grasping or too-terrified-to-contemplate space when I fell in love with a person who had attempted suicide twice before. I’d already survived huge losses. Life wasn’t turning out to be picture-perfect. The only reasonable response, it seemed to me, was to keep living with faith and hope, one day at a time. When the final suicide attempt robbed me of my beloved a year later, grieving began yet again. I don’t want to sound contrary or mean, David. When people say things like this, on one hand I’m pleasantly surprised that they’ve had the privilege and blessing of living much, and long, before needing to do some of this sort of work; on the other hand, I don’t understand how folks seem to be insulated from those who have been doing this work for a long time. Take care…

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posted May 1, 2007 at 3:42 pm

Steve, you are so right. There is a protected and safe little world that many live in. Things happen to others – in pictures – far away. Then they are somehow within the safe little world – drug addiction of a child, mental illness, physical illness, a disaster, the depression of a family coping – and for some reason – the world becomes both bigger and smaller in the same moment. Suffering both isolates us and connects us to the universe in a way that comfort cannot. the paradox of suffering is “the cross”. When my child was first diagnosed a friend told me that in all of life there were only two choices – bitterness or transformation. Sometimes you even have to go through bitterness to get to transformation, but ultimately there aren’t any other choices.

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Gina Melton

posted May 1, 2007 at 5:24 pm

Have we all gotten so full of ourselves that we have to have someone walk in front of us chanting, “Remember that thou art mortal!” like an egomaniacal Roman emperor? It seems true humility is the hardest lesson of all to learn after all. I once told a friend of mine who is an atheist that I thought the best reason to believe in a Higher Power is that if I thought that human beings were the most omniscient form of life in the universe it would depress me to no end. We’re so limited, so very mortal, so flawed, when it comes right down to it. As smart as we are, we don’t know beans from buckshot about most of universe around us.She laughed and said, “I have to agree with you on that particular point.”Gina

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