Today's news is filled with acts of violence, threats, anger and death. A plane was hijacked, five young Amish women were killed, North Korea is testing nuclear mistles, everyone is getting angry at everyone else. It's hard to find a strand of peace or hope in the news.
It would be so easy to give in to hopelessness, anger, fear and violence. In each of our personal lives, there are little broken places, things that keep gnawing at us. It would be so easy to give into those same emotions. But I don't think it's the right answer.
It would also be easy to say that "these emotions aren't admirable", or something like that. But the truth is, we each have those emotions, and we can, and should, use them for good. Anger spurs on courage, fear tells us something is wrong, pain does the same thing (sometimes). Each of these things are okay to feel.
I realized something in theology yesterday. We were reading about the Reserection. In the book of Mark, chapter 16, if you look at the footnotes, you'll probably notice something interesting
Notice that there are about 11 verses that the footnotes say weren't included in the most reliable manuscripts. I find that very interesting. Notice what it ends with if you take out those eleven verses
8Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
They were afraid? What kind of ending is that for "The greatest story ever told?" It wasn't what I expected. Now, to be fair, we talked about possible reasons for that. The one that seems most plauseable to me is that, since this book was written just around the time of the fall of Jerusalem, Mark was afraid too.
So, the act of covering up fear is not a new thing. As I read these news articles, I've decided to be honest about my reactions. If they scare me, that's okay, I'm scared. If I'm ticked off, that's fine. The question is, what will I do with the gifts of anger and fear? Will I lash out, like the man who stormed that school? Will I be afraid and stop living my life? I sure hope not, and I hope you won't either.
The gift of anger is courage. And the gift we gain from fear can be hope. Let's each challenge ourselves to take those gifts and go on. Listen to your reactions to things that happen. Instead of bottling them, or hiding from them, learn from them.
I'm looking back on my training with Julio. There was a lot of fear there. Do I wish I had not been afraid or nervous? Sometimes. But I also know that those feelings gave me gifts. The fear gave me a sense of how permanent this was. It kept me from getting cocky.
The more I thought about it yesterday, the more I think I like the ending of Mark the way it was the first time. The lack of a happy-ever-after story gave me a lot of questions. What happened next? What did they do? How did they resolve their fears? Sometimes, the disturbing stories show us the most about the human condition. They give us a context. Would the Passion and Resurrection stories have the same message without the fear? In the turmoil of the Passion, did the fear these women and men had keep them alive? Was the fear something God used to keep them safe?
I love how this theology class is showing me that in many ways, the "little miracles" are what are so amazing. What disturbing story are you watching for a happy-ever-ever-ending? What if that story has more than the happy ending?