A common reaction
in the wave of tragedy
(usually the counterpoint
to "God must have been watching out for you
" when one narrowly dodges
To these people, I offer the words of Reverend William Shane Coffin, former chaplain of Yale, delivering his son's eulogy:
When a person dies, there are many things that can be said, and there is at least one thing that should never be said. The night after Alex died I was sitting in the living rooms of my sister's house outside of Boston, when the front door opened and in came a nice looking middle-aged woman, carrying about eighteen quiches. When she saw me, she shook her head, then headed for the kitchen, saying sadly over her shoulder, "I just don't understand the will of God." Instantly I was up and in hot pursuit, swarm ing all over her. "I'll say you don't, lady!" I said.
For some reason, nothing so infuriates me as the incapacity of seemingly intelligent people to get it through their heads that God doesn't go around this world with his fingers on triggers, his fist around knives, his hands on steering wheels. God is dead set against all unnatural deaths. And Christ spent an inordinate amount of time delivering people from paralysis, insanity, leprosy, and muteness. Which is not to say that there are no nature - caused deaths - I can think of many right here in this parish in the five years I've been here - deaths that are untimely and slow and pain-ridden, which for that reason raise unanswerable questions, and even the specter of a Cosmic Sadist - yes, even and Eternal Vivisector. But violent deaths, such as the one Alex died - to understand those is a piece of cake. As his younger brother put it simply, standing at the head of the casket at the Boston funeral, "You blew it, buddy. You blew it." The one thing that should never be said when someone dies is "It is the will of God. "Never do we know enough to say that. My own consolation lies in knowing that it was not the will of God that Alex die; that when the waves closed over the sinking car, God's heart was the first of all our hearts to break.
Remember that. No matter your religion.
Yesterday, God's heart broke, that we do this to each other.