Beautiful and Terrible Things

by | Mar 21, 2012 | 2 comments

“You have to give God the option to work in the present.  You and Audrey have a life to live, even though it’s not the one you wanted- it’s the one you have,” a friend and old boss writes to me yesterday.

Give God the option to work in the present.

Is my heart so hardened and so angry, am I living so much in the past that I am not open to that “option”?  I am afraid if I look for something- I will find it- and not necessarily because it’s there- but because I need it to be.  But mostly- I am angry on behalf of my husband and can’t seem to get past that and move onto my own life- which as she says, still needs to be lived.  I am stubborn- I refuse to give life meaning enough to say I should get on with mine, before I am able to say genuinely- yes, it does have meaning.  It is not a tale told by an idiot- despite the horrific things that happen.  “Here is the world, beautiful and terrible things will happen.  Don’t be afraid,”  Frederick Buechner writes.  If I can believe this…

I did not write down the exact quote before returning this one to the library, but in the memoir by Joyce Carol Oates, she writes about her own disbelief in a God or Creator and how she didn’t need to have an explanation for the world or the things that grew in the garden outside her house.  “It just is,” she writes.  I am paraphrasing unfortunately but I believe she uses those three words.  It just is.  I’ve been asking myself if I can find meaning in a world that just is.  If a world with striking beauty and black terror can be a world that “just is” and if I can find hopeful existence in that world.

One of the widow groups on FB that just sends out quotations- sometimes terribly trite but sometimes profound, sends this one out:
“Yes, I will try to be.  Because I believe that not being, is arrogant.”  Antonio Porcia, Voces 1943
I actually stop and read this one again.  It reminds me of something Vivian Gornick, a writing teacher in my MFA program, once said to us during a workshop, that shy people are really not being timid- they’re being arrogant.  I am not timid with life, but perhaps closed-fisted and perhaps prideful enough to believe I can ascertain whether life is meaningful enough to try to be again before I get involved.
Try to be.

Sadly, I get more footholds for this journey from Korean dramas lately than any sermon.  In the last one I finished, a grown orphan turned Korean mask-wearing crazy person who kidnaps all the people who wronged him, (just gets them to confess to their crimes on tape while he scares them by wearing the mask- then releases them- yes these dramas are funny.) tries to take his life by jumping off a building, but the main character, in a climactic moment, grabs onto his arm and tries to pull him back up to the roof.  Even though the character who jumped saw only injustice in the world, and even though he would have to face punishment for his own crimes, he still wanted to live.  The hero of the series screamed to him in Korean as he hung there, “Live with all your strength!”  I cry as I watch this scene despite the melodrama.  I have said before here that I don’t hear the whole “He’d want you to be happy” thing, but that I do hear, “Live well.”  Now, as I often feel I too am hanging from a precipice- I grab onto this phrase, “Live with all your strength.”

Live with all your strength.

It’s funny how words and phrases sometimes sit with you and you chew on them until they kind of fit together like a puzzle in your mind…in this case they were all a form of the irregular verb “to be,”

It Just Is

Try To Be

and in the background I keep hearing- what I’ve always thought is a pretty cool name for a God to call himself, you’ve got to admit- whether you believe in him or not:

I Am.


March 21, 2012


  1. Brooke Simmons

    "Live with all your strength"…I love this verbage. I think because sometimes we don't have much strength but we can live with all that we do have. We can do the best we can with what we've got at any given moment and perhaps if we do that then we will only continue to get stronger…this will sit with me for awhile. Hugs to you.

  2. Anonymous


    How about this quote from Anais Nin:

    And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

    Love to you both



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