礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù ) – The Gift of Good & Good (or what we would call ‘bad’)

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“Something bad happened to me.”

I’m sure you’ve said those words, before.

I have.

But is it possible?

On Saturday, in our community,  here in Jiamusi China, a gas-pipe exploded.

In the street where we buy all our vegetables & supplies from beautiful people with beautiful little market shops.

It is, perhaps, 800 meters from our apartment building.

On Saturday evening, walking home from classes, I saw the rubble & the workmen in red hazmat suits & the machines, clearing up the mess & fixing the problem.

I thought there must be a problem with a gas-leak.

I didn’t know about the explosion.

Neither did my family.

Only today, did I find out that it was an explosion & three people were badly injured.

No one died.

Thank God for that.

I was teaching when it happened.

I have no idea where Zuko & the kids were.

They could’ve been at home.

They could’ve been there, in that street, buying carrots & potatoes & egg-plant.

One of us is there at least once a day, to get what we need for lunch & dinner.

They weren’t.

And my first thought, when I heard of this & of the people who were injured, was: ‘Wow! Our Origin was good to us. It could’ve been Sophia or Zuko & Maddi!’

And then I wondered, but if (s)He was good to us, why weren’t (s)He good to those three people?

Or was (s)He?

Would I say, “Wow! Our Origin was good to us!”, had Zuko & little Maddi been in the street when the gas-pipe exploded?

Is that goodness?

I don’t think I will experience it as goodness.

I will cry.

For myself.

But, mostly, for them, for the pain & hurt they must endure.

It would be hard.

Difficult.

A difficult time for them & for our family.

‘Bad things’ happen to us all the time.

They’ve happened to me & us as a family in many ways and at many times.

My grandmother always said they come in threes.  It was her Irish superstition.

My grandfather said, if trouble found your address, he will stay for a long time.

They were both right.

In a way.

This is your experience too, I know.

For if we find ourselves afflicted by trouble, usually the trouble is not just a single thing.

Like the time I walked away from Church Ministry.

I did not just find myself in deep financial difficulties,  I also experienced the pain of being ostracised by family & (who I believed was) friends who did not understand the decision I was making.

Or the time the foundations of our little wooden house gave way, after numerous floods & the insurer dug up the smallest little impossible fine print, using the most ridiculous delaying tactics, in order not to pay for repairs.

The Landy’s Engine blew as well.

And Zuko fell pregnant.

And eventually we were stuck without a home for almost 8 months.

That is how life flows.

The nature of ‘bad things’.

The year my dear friend Gert passed away, was the same year Awie passed away.

Two deep precious friends, ripped from my life, in short succession.

Maybe this is why I relate so well to the Ancient Jewish stories of Job and Esther and Mara.

They tell the truth.

The truth about this life filled with ‘bad things’ happening to normal good people.

War.

Murder.

Rape.

Violence.

Being attacked & robbed.

Hijacked.

Abducted.

Finding yourself in a violent and abusive relationship.

Be it physical or emotional.

Waking up one morning to hear your best friend say, ‘this is not what I signed up for, I’m moving out and on, to greener pastures, for you just don’t do it for me anymore’.

Standing at your child’s grave.

Losing a limb.

Not being able to have children.

Falling terminaly ill.

Or being born with a body that doesn’t develop or doesn’t function as most bodies do, or as you would expect.

‘Bad’ has many disguises.

And even though I believe in ‘The Gift’ & ‘The Way’ & ‘The Way of the Gift’, I also believe and know, from some experience, ‘bad’ is bad.

It hurts.

It takes everything we have to get to the other side.

The question, doesn’t want to let go of me, though: “would I see the bad as Gift from the Gift”?

In an existential sense, I must say (very hesitatingly): yes.

For all the ‘bad’ things which I have had to endure in my short life, had been gifts.

They made me more.

They brought me to new places.

In my own being.

And in the world.

They showed me more.

Or through them, our Origin showed me more.

About who (s)He is.

About who I am.

About life.

And living.

Someone once said: “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”.

That is how he is quoted.

I doubt we all know this.

And I am somewhat offended by the conditionality of his statement.

As if our Origin only cares about those who care about (s)He.

I struggle with this.

It would make it simple.

I mean really, I love our Origin, that’s why (s)He protected my family on Saturday.

Those three people obviously mustn’t love our Origin … that’s why they weren’t protected.

No.

It isn’t that simplistic and flat.

For our Origin does not love, (s)He is love.

This I know, without any doubt.

And if (s)He “IS” love, then (s)He must “BE” love.

Always.

In everything.

To everyone.

Regardless of whether or not ‘we’ love.

And if (s)He is love, always, to everyone … then even that which we experience as ‘bad’, must be expressions of love.

Unless, (s)He is the God of Bette Midler’s song, you know, the one who is watching from a comfortable distance, to whom everything seems peaceful and calm, and (s)He isn’t really concerned or involved.

And that is not who (s)He is.

Our Origin is our Creator.

Our Origin is intimately involved.

Our Origin knows when a sparrow falls to the ground.

When a hair falls from my head.

So, I am still relieved, that my family or I were not in the street when the gas-pipe exploded.

But I am also aware, anew, that there is only good.

For Our Origin is good.

And even when the ‘bad’ overwhelms us, it is for good.

It is ‘gift’.

Part of the rhythm of ‘loss & gain & loss again‘, which constantly creates space for us to live & brings to life.

And I know, loss will come again.

‘Bad’.

Not this week.

Not with a gas-explosion.

Not this time.

And I know, it will be good.

For (s)He works everything for good, to and for those (s)He loves.

That’s you.

For (s)He is your Creator and Origin and Source and Sourceror too.

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