There are moments in a pastor’s life… well, there are moments.
I must admit that I have trouble lending eloquent and poetic words to the experience of sitting with parents who have just lost a child. Can any other event make you feel like the universe has gone so completely ass-backwards?
After receiving that phone call, I got into my car and drove to work at Utica College, where I lectured today on Albert Camus and the absurdity of existence. Camus had the idea that life is meaningless, and that human beings regain their dignity by defiantly shaking their fist at the empty sky and continuing to live honorable and courageous lives in spite of life’s meaninglessness.
As a Christian, I share Camus’ defiant spirit, but not his faith in absurdity. I choose to see this universe as meaningful because I believe it is founded and centered upon love. Camus and others would have me believe that love, in reality, consists of an electro-chemical reaction in my brain that has been conditioned into a herd-instinct by eons of evolution.
I believe that love originates in the heart of the Trinity, which exists at the center of reality. The universe and all who dwell in it are but ripples and refractions of that love, hovering over the waters of chaos and piercing the darkness saying, “Let there be light.”
Love is defiant in the face of death and chaos. It mourns with friends and marches on picket lines. Love moves over to make room for the stranger on the bus and in society. The act of love is a rebellion.
Whenever we tap into love through seemingly insignificant acts of human compassion, we unleash that power which forms the fundamental building blocks of all creation, dwarfing even the power of the atom.
Like Camus, I shake my fist at the universe, not because it is meaningless, but because it is meaningful. I will continue to love as best I can, because I choose to trust its power beyond that of the bullet, the ballot, or the dollar. I choose to believe that our small acts of love in the face of death have the power to transcend death because they are rooted in the Source of all life.
“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.” -Song of Solomon 8:6-7