Make Sense

'John's Secret' by David Robinson

‘John’s Secret’ by David Robinson

Several years ago, decades in fact, G was driving his car. A young boy sprinted into the street in front of his car and was killed. To this day, G holds himself responsible. Even though it was an accident, he cannot forgive himself for the death of the young boy. He blames himself. Forgiveness is beyond his reach.

This terrible accident has become the defining moment of his life. Rather, his search for understanding why it happened and his refusal of forgiveness has shaped his existence.

He is a kind man. He is generous. He is devout. He is very old, walks with a cane, moves slowly, cares for his ailing wife, always smiles, He is generous with his time and his resources even though his resources are very, very limited. He sings. He prays. He listens. He asks, “Why?”

“What if I had left the house a minute later? What if I had left minute sooner? What if I’d decided to stay home? How could I have been the instrument of that young boy’s death? What could I have done…?” He suffers because, for him, there can be no absolution.

What do you do when there is no answer to the question, “Why?” What do you understand about your life and the forces of the universe when there is no sense to be made? What do we do when the experiences of our lives betray the sense that we’ve already made?

We do what we always do. We do what is most human: we make sense. We create order so we might not have to experience the chaos. We make statements in the form of questions: “What kind of God would let this happen?” or, “Why me?” There are so many things that we cannot control so somewhere there must be a bigger picture, a greater intention, a man behind the curtain, a reason why. We say to ourselves, “There must be a right path, a rule, a law, a design that we must follow.” It is something to ponder: why is our greatest horror to be out-of-control? What if we danced with the mystery rather than tried to contain it?

“To understand” is a form of the control illusion. Do you believe you need to know how to do something before you do it? You don’t but without the control-illusion of “how” you’d come face to face with the reality that process is chaos. Chaos is uncomfortable. Things happen. Order is something that is made after the fact. “There must be a way!” “There must be a reason!” There is always a way but you won’t know it until you walk the path and turn around to see it. There is always a reason, but you create it. It is not given. Order feels good.

And, it is necessary. Giving order to our chaos, telling a story, is what makes us human. If you could boil my work in the world down to a single phrase, it would be this: we have experiences first and then we make meaning, not the other way around.

We make meaning, we contain to infinite, through the stories we tell. The choreography of the human dance happens between the poles of “no sense to be made of the mystery,” and “the need to understand why.” G is making sense of his life. I am making sense of my life. As are you and everyone you meet today.

[to be continued]

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