As I was going through my busy day today a thought came to me: I have not written in a couple of weeks. How am I going to get better, or get rid of some of the ideas in my head unless I keep writing?
I came home tonight and found a story written by Rev Massimi. He is a local priest who thinks he is Spider-Man. “With Great Collar, Comes Great Responsibility.” I read it, and while I was reading it a story of my own was running through my head. I was going to respond to his story as a message, and then thought that maybe I should just respond with my own story. Thank you for your inspiration. I think superheroes inspire!
When I was 15 a friend of mine was taken suddenly in a tragic car accident. Also in the car were two other friends that survived the crash. I was devastated and confused. I had so many questions. I heard at school how I shouldn’t be reacting so dramatically. They were just my friends, they were not my boyfriend, or best friends, they were just friends. I had talked to the friend that lost his life that night only hours before. I was supposed to be at that hockey game. My mother was adamant that I was not to go. For some reason I listened to her that night. It was February. The weather was bad. The roads were slippery. The car was not perfect. There was a crash, and many lives changed forever.
That set me on a voyage of discovery. I wanted to find someone that had some answers about how things like this tragic accident could happen, and how it could make sense. I was raised in a very religious home, but not a Christian home. We did not go to church every Sunday, and we did not follow all of the Christian holidays or celebrations. I talked to my dad. In my world he always had all the important answers, so I asked him all the important questions.
“My friend didn’t do anything wrong, he was a good person. Why would God let someone like that die? Aren’t there bad people that could have died instead of someone young, and fun, and with a full life ahead? What about a future with education, jobs, family, promise? Doesn’t he deserve to have that just as much as any of us? What about my other friends in the car? What did they ever have a chance to do to deserve this kind of tragedy in their lives? They were all good people. They never meant harm to anyone else. They were just having fun, and playing practical jokes. How does any of this loss, injury, and harm make any sense? If God lets good people die, and bad people also die, do they go to the same place? If you don’t have answers to these questions, or you don’t know God’s plan, can you let me know where to go next?”
I listened to his answers, and processed them in my 15 year old brain. I started thinking about all of the other people that might also have answers. I knew there were ministers, I knew there were priests, I knew that in our neighborhood there were many churches and buildings that housed other religions. I was going to investigate.
On the corner of Brant Ave and Richmond Street there was a United Church. I would go there and talk to the minister, and ask him the same questions. I would just let him know what had happened, and that I had a lot of questions about God’s motives and direction. I would see if he had any different, or better or more informed answers than my Dad did. I went there and found that there was, in fact, a minister in the church, and he would love to chat with me and answer some questions. I proceeded to ask him the same questions that I had asked my Dad. His answers were more based on actual quotes from the Bible, and references to Christianity. They did have the same mystery, and admission of not really understanding the grand scheme, as my Dad’s answers had. He did not seem completely positive about the answers to the hard questions that I was asking, and he asked me a lot of questions too. In hindsight, I am sure he was a bit uncertain about this young woman in front of him that was asking all of these hard questions.
I went to Grace Anglican Church on the corner of West and Church street. I spoke to the Priest at that church. He was very interested in hearing my story, and was also very interested in hearing my questions. He then had some questions of his own. Near the end of our conversation we talked about where people go when they die, we talked about prayer and we talked about references to the Bible.
On another occasion I went to visit a Priest at St Basil’s Church on Palace Street. It is a huge building, and very intimidating to someone who has not spent a lot of time in a church. By this point I had such a curiosity; why were these people that I was talking to not able to give me any definitive answers? Weren’t they the ones that were supposed to know? Weren’t they the ones that everyone went to with their BIG questions? Weren’t they the ones that had all the answers, or at least knew where to find them? I asked the priest the same questions that I had asked all the others. His answers were about Bible stories, references to the Bible, some questions about my experience, and then stories about heaven and hell. I would go there because I did not have the answers.
At that point I was confused. I did not feel like I had any more answers to any more of the questions than I did at the beginning. I started to do some personal soul-searching to find out what I thought the lessons were in all of this.
This is what I came up with: Be a good friend. I had one friend in the hospital that was faced with many surgeries. Maybe I could do something to make his process easier on him. My other friend had died, and he was on his own kind of journey. There was nothing I could do for him except honor his memory. I still remember him today.
Always ask questions. No one ever has all the right answers. What each of us needs is curiosity, and information and answers to some of the questions. From there we can develop our own sense of what is important, and what makes sense. Over time some of the answers, and some of the questions, may change. That is a good thing.
Don’t be intimidated by Church. There are people inside, and they want to talk to you. They want to answer your questions. They have questions to ask you that may inspire some more thinking. Every one of us is on a journey of investigation.
Church is a building. The rest is in your heart and in your soul. Ask questions, be curious, talk to a lot of people. All of us are human. We all have experience that we can share to help others. We are all at a different stage in our journey. There is not one of us that has all the answers.
Even if you think you have all the answers, and you think you have been asked all the questions, there may be someone out there that needs you to see things through their eyes, and not always through your own.
Sometimes when someone walks through your doors, and wants to ask some questions, they do not want a superhero. Sometimes they have simple questions about simple situations that require some tough answers.
It has been a long time since that 15 year old girl went on a quest for answers. It has been a long journey of soul-searching and discovery. That 15 year old girl is now a grief counsellor, and helps people find answers to their own questions. She does not have the answers. The answers are there to be found by each of us. They are different for each of us. They come from experience, religion, history, family, belief. Each of us has to find our superhero; the one of whom we can ask the questions. The one who listens to our questions, and asks us some new questions. The one who can guide us to some answers, and lets us choose on what to build our belief system. Thank you to those superheroes in my life who have done that for me, inspired that in me, or been a part of the process. I think you will know who you are. In a strange way I guess I owe a thank you to all of those involved in that tragic accident of long ago, who inspired a search for answers.