The Altar of Despair

IMG_0476_2Here it is, a cold evening, mid- advent.  My tree, the yearly visitor, is beautiful as always.  The house is full of precious things.  There is abundant candlelight. And yet recently I have been visiting the altar of despair.

The climate change conference in Paris is going on as I write.  The little attention the news is giving it is trumped by Trump and the fear exacerbated by his demagoguery .  Still it is a time of reckoning .  We have not lived sustainably on our Earth and the effects are dramatic for many of our planetary kin.  Unlike the Aboriginal people of Australia who lived without destroying  their continent for 60,000 years, our civilizations have managed to greedily use our precious resources and foul our collective nest.  The realization of this is not new, but has landed with more gravity in these dark days.  How could we waste creation?

I was appalled  at the terrorist attacks at a Regional Center which helped people like the first children I worked in Special Ed..  The workers at these centers are people as kind and filled with a desire to help as any on the planet.  And the attackers, seduced by an ideology that predicts apocalypse  and elevates its adherents to special martyrdom left their baby to become murderers .  And all this weeks after Paris and Lebanon and Mali, and the ongoing hell of Syria.  How could this be?

I have been listening to too much news, trolling for stories explaining the historical context and psychological profiles of those drawn to the twisted rendition of medieval Islam that charts the course for an organization that ironically carries the same name as the dark Mother Goddess, Isis.  My mind hasn’t found anything to land on, and my heart finds it difficult to take over.  Who is supposed to be able to understand this?  Who can help?

I continue my practices.  The advent wreath is lit each night.  I stare at the tree like the child who used to fly her blue bird into the branches on its way to the creche in Bethlehem.  I see beauty and move from the altar of despair, to the altar of longing and back again.  This season, the darkness is so real.

And of course, I come to prayer.  I move into the spaces of hope and peace.  But it has been so important in these darkening days to give despair its due.