“People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbors. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other. (pg. 61, “Racism and the Economy”) ― Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
I can understand something of what Berry is saying here. Having witnessed and shared in the unspeakable tragedy my wife went through a year ago and then losing her late in the year. After almost 54 years of being happily married I wondered how I could ever enjoy life again. But I thank God for having blessed with all those good years with my beloved Fay and for the wonderful family she gave me.
Then shortly after that came a spiritual crisis – not the loss of faith, but the harsh, and I believe unjust, judgment against me for simply putting in writing what I believe about how to know and serve God. But I hold no ill will against these people whom I have loved and shared so much with for so long. I thank God for all the good that is in their lives and for all the good memories of days gone by.
I have learned much and experienced much good in the past several months. Indeed, much that is very, very unbelievably good. So much that I sometimes wonder why God would choose to bestow such rich blessings on such an unworthy person as myself.
I have received so much love from my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ from whom I had for years been estranged. The difference? I simply have chosen to not judge them over any possible differences we may have of have had. I accept them on the basis of their faith in Christ and do not demand that they believe what I believe about matters of utter indifference so far as that faith is concerned. Not only do I not hold any ill will against those who judged me, but I can honestly say that I love them and wish nothing but the best for them. I have learned to love unconditionally. That is not to say I am perfect at it, but as long as Jesus is my model, I believe I am on safe ground and moving in the right direction. Thank you, Father, for all my brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I share so much.
On that same basis I am able to love and relate to people of different faith heritages. Just because someone has come to faith in Christ through a different religious heritage does not mean they do not have faith in Christ who died for us both. They may express their love for the Lord differently, but that does not mean they do not love the Lord as much as I do. It is wonderful to love and receive love from these people. That could never happen had I not chosen to love them in the same way the Lord loves me. Thank you, Lord, for these special friends with whom I share so much in common.
Out of the tragedies of the past year, or maybe in spite of them, God has brought some very special people into my life. He brought Bill, who has become a very dear friend, even though we have never met face to face. We talk every day, study the Bible together, talk about good times – and some not so good. We are engaged in a joint writing venture (about which an announcement will be made soon). I would never have become acquainted with Bill had the events of the past year had not occurred. I thank God every day for my friend, Bill.
I have been blessed to come to know Keith who asked to publish the material I wrote and posted on Facebook last winter. The result of this acquaintance is my first book, “A Better Way.” Without Keith, that material would have never again seen the light of day. Thank you, God, for my friend and publisher.
And now, best of all, God has blessed me again with a blessing so amazing I am just overwhelmed. He has brought a wonderful lady into my life. We love spending time with one another, going places and eating out together. We love to talk to one another – and do it every day.To share a deep faith and love for God is a blessing of inestimable worth. Perhaps it is a good sign that even her little dog has accepted me! What more could I ask? Thank you, God, for Becky.
Drugs? Who needs them! I walk every day with joy in my heart. I am unbelievably blessed! And above it all, to know that I will be blessed forever with all these good people in the presence of God just overwhelms me! Thank you, Father, thank you!