Tuesday, October 5, 2010

universal truth

a few months back, i got some news that triggered this rant. (me? ranting? i know, right? shocking.) the prognosis was bad, and it made me scared, angry and frustrated. but every story has an ending, and this time, the forces of good are winning out. the affable-but-worthless fiance became the affable-and-trying husband. and somehow, some way, my kid cousin and her baby girl beat the odds today. the birth went down, and everyone's okay so far.

i've been vaguely terrified about what would happen ever since i found out about this. i mean, the rationalist, the logical thinker, looks at something like this and thinks, yeah, i have a bad, bad feeling about all of this. there's no way this will end well. and yet, here we are. i'm so incredibly relieved that the kids pulled it out. there's still a long row to hoe, and i'm still holding my breath (not to mention that now the kid's going to have to be raised - another story entirely), but the big threat passed over. whew.

i was with the man when i found out about my cousin going to the hospital. he held me, he rubbed my back, and he said, "you have to trust me; it's going to be okay." i said to him, because i knew he would understand this statement, "it's times like these when it's hard to be an atheist." i don't mean it's difficult to retain my lack of belief in the face of things like this. it's literally challenging to be faced with something this potentially tragic and to know that there's nothing you can do except hope for the best. my family, of course, will point to this all as a clear example of the intercession of a higher power. and i even succumbed to the temptation of seeking comfort in the non-existent by asking my religious friends to pray for her. i felt like i had to do SOMETHING, being a thousand miles away with no ability to do anything anyway.

but even that request made me feel like a sellout. i mean, why would prayers from others matter? it's all steps in a dance that's performed to music i just can't hear. it's comforting, i guess, to think that prayer, faith, etc. has any effect on what happens in this world. and it's a "comfort" i will never be able to experience. that's why it's hard to face things like this: there's no comfort found in it, just the cold realization that there's nothing you can do but hope for the best and prepare for the worst. all the beautiful words and heartfelt sentiment in the world can't change that. that's the universal truth.


  1. A good chunk of my family is very religious. From stoic Catholics to evangelical Christians and even an apocalyptic prophesying Jehovah's Witness.

    And then there's me. I'm probably best described as agnostic, but leaning towards full-blown atheism. And I just don't even know how to talk them; everything revolves around God, prayer and dogmatic ritual. We can't get past it.

    I'm glad your cousin and the baby are well and will hope right along with you that they will continue to stay healthy.

  2. You may not believe in God, but studies have shown that people who have a support system heal faster than people who don't. Just make sure she knows you care and you'll be giving her a big leg up.

  3. I'm glad everyone is okay and I hope that everyone continues to be okay.
    As an agnostic, I can sort of relate to how you feel about this.

  4. Glad to hear it all turned out for the best. And since I went there for the last post on this topic, I'll go to that well again:

    Rufus: Are you saying you believe?
    Bethany: No. But I have a good idea.

    Seems like you've got a good idea when it comes to dealing with the situation.

  5. Sometimes hoping for the best and preparing for the worst is the best thing you can do. I've learned that one the hard way.

  6. I'm glad everyone's doing well, hon.

  7. I'm glad your cousin and child are doing well.

    it's times like these when it's hard to be an atheist.

    It's times like these that I am reminded of the differences between Religion, God and Faith. I am not a religious person, and am in many ways anti-religion. IMO, the good that comes from religion does not out weigh the bad. I am somewhat indifferent as to the existence of God. I'd probably be classified as an Agnostic leaning towards Atheism. Faith... faith is a broader concept, and not necessarily a religious one. I have Faith in people and friends and some organizations and so many other things. I find comfort in this faith.

  8. I'm not religious, but I do have some beliefs. One of them is that everything happens for a reason (cliche, I know)... but I try to remember that and at the end of the day, things always work out how they're meant to.

  9. there's no comfort found in it, just the cold realization that there's nothing you can do but hope for the best and prepare for the worst. all the beautiful words and heartfelt sentiment in the world can't change that. that's the universal truth.

    So beautiful and melancholy. For some, hoping for the best involves faith and prayer. For others, it doesn't. You weren't a sellout for being thankful for others' prayers during that tough time. You were respecting that their prayers made them feel better.


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