Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Vulnerability: We Cannot Escape It

These days I fumble around searching for "where-to-put-my-feet-on-the-ground" when it comes to having a meaningful relationship with my Dad. He speaks incoherently, drawing out—from what he can still picture in the advanced dementia of his failing brain—fragments of impressions and experiences of a lifetime, making them into a puzzle that neither he nor any of us can solve.

He is being called to endure a strange sorrow, and though I don't know how to understand what he's going through or even enter into it, I know that I must accompany him through it, somehow, in whatever way I can, to the very end.

He will never get "better," at least not in this world, not in any sense that I can yet grasp or relate to experientially.

We humans have all this stuff in our amazing 21st century, all this power... but in the end, does it really matter for our lives? Sooner or later, we become helpless, or our loved ones are powerless and we can't help them, we can't "restore" them.

Vulnerability is inescapable. We all must pass through it, and the passage is unfathomable and can seem unbearable. But we must not give up.

The reasons why life is worth living, suffering worth enduring, and compassion worth giving haven't changed.

It is all the more necessary to hold onto these essential reasons, to remember them, to return to them when everything else fails us. In those moments, we see the demands of reality stripped of false sentimentality, stark but vivid.

No matter what their condition, appearance, or capacities may be, the existence of every human person is good. The human person, as such, deserves to be loved.

The awesome dignity of each human being is beyond anything we can construct or even define.

Now more than ever, as we vacillate between the illusion that we have the power to do anything and the fear that nothing we do has any value, we must be true to the mysterious gift and the ineradicable worthiness of every single human person.

This truth will take us through dark places. Don't give up.

We are left with the cry for help. We reach up for a hand in the dark, hoping to be grasped even when we don't know it, even when the waters envelop us and we feel ourselves to be drowning.

We hope beyond consciousness to be buoyed up and carried to the distant shore.