I was warming up a cup of tea in the microwave and somehow dropped the cup and helplessly watched it shatter on the kitchen floor. The cup was one of my favorites. I purchased it when I was in Ireland. It was a Cath Kidston mug, and I love her designs. That particular style of mug is no longer available.
The mug was one of seven I own. I have given Cath Kidston mugs to Cathy, my girls, and my daughter-in-law. I’ve also given them to two of my close friends. I’ve never given a mug on a holiday or special occasion. I’ve just passed them along when it’s occurred to me to do so.
When I dropped the mug, I immediately started crying. I could barely catch my breath. I cried for a long time. I wept as I swept up the pieces and carefully placed every last speck of glass on a plate. It is sitting on my dining room table, waiting for a miracle.
I have a hard time crying. Throughout my life I have needed some kind of prompting to bring me to tears. Movies have been pretty reliable over the years, but to the best of my recollection, this is the first time tears have flowed after the breaking of glassware.
My life is hard. Yours is too, I know. Why do we think we deserve more? Why do we take umbrage at the realization life is not fair? It is certainly more fair for white middle-class Americans than it is for countless other people groups. Why am I so offended by my losses? That is a problem to be contemplated on another day. For today, I will just cry.
So many of the lives of people I love have been shattered. Some have been shattered through terrible tragedies; some through illness; some because of decisions I have made. There is too much pain in the world.
Given the general sucky nature of life, I do not understand why fundamentalists feel the pressing need to contribute additional pain to the experience. One would think religion would be in the business of providing comfort, not inflicting pain. This weekend I was with friends in the Pacific Northwest who have experienced incredible pain at the hands of evangelical Christians. You can see their wounds healing. I know they could see mine. I’m sure they could also see the occasional far away look in my eyes.
I very rarely look at comments posted online about anything I have done. It’s not helpful to one’s self-esteem. Yesterday I happened to see a comment someone made about my TEDxMileHigh YouTube video. They wrote just two words – “nightmare fuel.” It took me a minute to understand what they were saying.
My first thought was that it was probably the comment of a fundamentalist Christian. I have my own prejudices. Whatever the source, it is not an unusual response to my story. I live it out every day. I wonder what kind of pain the commenter is in that would cause him or her to want to inflict pain on another. What deep pain do I trigger in his or her own life?
The truth is I am tired of the losses. My life has been shattered and I am afraid I cannot put the pieces together again. But that is only how I feel today, as I look at the hopelessly broken shards of glass on my dining room table.
Tomorrow will be a new day. And maybe tomorrow I will be able to say with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.