Saturday, April 7, 2018

I Am a Poor, Weak, Powerless Human Being

I am a poor man. A sinner. Weak. Afraid. Worth nothing.

The smallest things break me. Bigger things shatter me. Truly, I am a poor man and I can't do anything.

I try to hide this.

I hide behind my intellectual and literary skills. I hide behind my illness. I hide behind pious statements. I hide behind humor.

These things are real enough in themselves. My interests and passions and abilities and health limitations are real enough. But I use them to hide the poverty of my inmost self, my emptiness, my desperate neediness and hunger that I don't understand. There is this awful cavernous hole in me and I'm terrified of it.

I'm afraid because I can't satisfy my own hunger.

I know (mostly intellectually) that Jesus can feed me. But I don't know how he does it, and I can't "see" him.

It's Easter week. Jesus, where are you!? ...

My father is 83 years old as of yesterday. He is ill and suffering much as he rapidly loses physical and mental capacities.

I'm his son, and I'm useless in front of him. My brother and my wife have been doing so much to see to his care. Thank God for them.

Given his current condition, the material circumstances surrounding him and the quality of his physicians and caregivers are the best we can hope for. That is a great relief. But he is confused and sad. Everything he has had in life is slipping out of his reach.

I don't know what to do. What can I give to him?

I spend time with him and he can't communicate (though he tries, and I feel the human anguish coming out). I can't give him what he seems to be asking for. I can't "make it get better." I don't "have" what he really wants.

I myself have been gut-punched by this sudden upheaval of life. My own long-afflicted body has very little capacity for handling stress; I survive by pacing things and stretching out small portions of energy. I am grateful for so many others who have helped in the chaos of these days.

But I am exhausted and overwhelmed and cut to the heart, because this is my father.

He suffers. I'm powerless.

Ultimately what can any of us do? What a gap there is between our desire to change things and the actual control we have over the situations of life!

Here we are, surrounded by all the technological power and the material resources and the gadgetry of the 21st century, and at the center of it all we are just poor frail human beings, whose brief lives pass in a blink (or two) of an eye.

Jesus, have mercy on my Dad. Have mercy on our family. Have mercy on me, a weak and sinful man.

Lord, here is the poverty and the pain and the hunger that looks to you and cries out to you.

We need you! I need you!