Skip to comments.Where Material Meets Supernatural
Posted on 03/11/2014 3:05:33 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
"But the purpose of prayer," wrote Bill Buckley, "surely, is to stress the great divisions between the material and the supernatural condition, not to gloss over them." Indeed, though it seemed in recent days that the chasm between the material and supernatural has grown so great that not even a multi-million dollar congressionally funded bridge to nowhere and back could connect the distant shores.
I'm not Catholic, (though I am doing some reading on the faith), so I'm unfamiliar with the specialties of the various saints. I know there is a patron saint for traveling, another for the military, and even one who specializes in the recovery of lost items, -- causing me to pause and wonder if he also handles lost patience? If there is no such saint recognized by the faith, I propose that nominations begin forthwith.
Were I consulted on the matter, (which is about as likely as someone opening a snow cone stand in the infernal regions), I'd title the nominee as the Patron Saint of Strike Marks, after my experience with a recalcitrant truck starter a few years ago. It had been on the fritz, and when I asked one of our maintenance shops to replace it, they consulted their little checklist and said nope, company policy prohibited its replacement. Not because it was reliable (it wasn't), and not because it started more often than not (it didn't), but because it didn't have visible strike marks on the outside. You see, if you strike the thing with a hammer, it moves the internal whatchamacallits so that the thing might start, and lo, you will have left a strike mark.
Well sir, if I had known that, you can bet your house, your boat, and a bottle of your favorite beverage that it would have broken out in strike marks. In fact, I offered to apply some strike marks on the spot, but the mechanic dually turned me away. And the starter dually expired about a week later right smack at the main entrance to a major plant. While awaiting the tow truck, I took my hammer and left a generous number of strike marks on pretty much everything I could find under the hood while imagining that I was also leaving marks on the author of that insidious checklist.
In fact, I think I could keep Saint Strike Mark gainfully employed these days. Last week, the power supply to the CB radio went out just one day before the Qualcomm itself gave up the ghost. With no way to receive work assignments or message the company, no GPS, no way to receive the old written directions to customers that we used prior to the advent of the GPS, and no way to get traffic updates from other truckers, I felt like Ray Charles trying to play outfield.
That left calling the customer and asking directions as the only alternative, except of course that it was out of the question, my company being prohibited from contacting the customer directly under the terms of whatever insane contract had been agreed to. It was reminiscent of the sign in a foreign hotel that read, "To call room service, please open the door and call room service." It's at this point that the divide between the material and the logical becomes almost as wide as that which lies between the material and the supernatural. When bureaucracies routinely and unsuccessfully attempt to transcend logic, everyone involved becomes frustrated.
What then, when the material world challenges a person in ways much more substantive than the Keystone Cop antics of a trucking company? Last week, my Dad's condition took a turn for the worse so that he was taken to the emergency room and admitted to the hospital where he remains while a battery of tests are being run to determine what has happened. Here then, where stroke-like symptoms meet the debilitating effects of grief and loss, where sadness merges with Alzheimer's, and depression intertwines with physical pain, we come upon the intersection of the material and the supernatural.
"Why did she have to die?" asked Dad not long after his wife passed away last September. There are no packaged and readied answers to such a question, particularly when asked by a minister who is already well-versed in such answers. A wounded soul isn't comforted with glib extrapolations. "Maybe it was just time for her to go home," I finally ventured. "What about us?" he asked. "She'll be waiting for us."
Even in the fog of Alzheimer's, certain questions resurface. Why does this person suffer? Why do some people rally and help while others turn their backs on those in pain? Why does a young and energetic wife and mother succumb to a monstrous brain tumor in less than two months? The believer is left, ultimately, with an issue of faith, and even as our family is now left smaller both in terms of those departed and those who willfully checked out, we emerge stronger, which is surely a good thing.
Mom's favorite Bible verse resonates in the heart: "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." To which I would add, from Lamentations, "His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
While praying for Dad's peace of mind and the family's strength to persevere, the hymn which the verse from Lamentations inspired comes to mind:
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
So it is that even though the miles that separate me from those that I love seem great while out here on the road, our strength is greater still. I spoke with Dad tonight. His spirits were fair, his humor somewhat subdued. For reasons known only to him and our Creator, he purchased a set of golf clubs last week. I told him I'd help him shoot some golf, but I'm not cleaning or cooking them when we get home. With a laugh, he said we have a deal. I'm holding him to it.
In other words, who knows