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So, I asked the Universe, "Universe, what I really want is"...
By Nancy Salvato
Saturday, March 24, 2007
I had a friend who came into my life when I really needed her, and she left just as suddenly. Although I'm not sure where she is these days, the words she chose to express her philosophy on life are still with me just as though she had spoken them yesterday. And if this is the only reason why I was meant to know her, then I am blessed.
She explained to me that when she spoke to the Universe and asked for something, the Universe always honored her request. Here's the rub, although the Universe is a pretty good listener, the Universe is a very concrete thinker. It's best to know exactly what you want before you start asking for what you think you need -or you just might find that you receive isn't exactly what you had in mind. These words echo in my head when I think to myself, I wish I didn't have to go into work today, or I wish the dogs would stop barking. Basically, the philosophy is this; be careful what you wish for. The Universe is listening. And let me add one more caveat, wishes aren't always granted when a person thinks they need something the most.
Just the other day, I told one of my colleagues (who is going through a rough time) it might be that the reason he was faced with his particular set of challenges is because this might be his battle to fight. Or maybe he was brought into my circle or me into his for an entirely different reason than was evident. Most people have heard the expression, "If you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans."
Michael Novak, in his review of three books written by atheists (National Review/March 19, 2007), had this to say about those who recognize our relationship to a power greater than us.
God is a good God, and has His own purposes, and it is no mistake to trust His kindness, ever. The Creator did not make us to face a reasonable world in a rational, calm, and dispassionate way – like a New York banker after a splendid lunch at his club, sunk into his favorite soft chair in the Library, where a fragrant cigar is still permitted, as he comfortably reads his morning papers. Instead, there is war exile, torture, injustice Life is to be understood as a trial, and a time of suffering. A vale of tears. A valley of death. Even in the bosom of wealth, and luxury, and plenty, cancer and failure and radical loneliness strike; but even more often, simple boredom."
Not at all a land of happy talk, not at all the perfect world of Candide. Atheism is in the main for comfortable men, in a reasonable world. For those in agony and distress, Christianity has seemed to serve much better and for a longer time, not because it offers "consolation" but precisely because it does not. For Christians, the cross is inescapable, and one ought always to be prepared to take it up.
As the coincidences add up, people and events in our lives come full circle. It's easier to understand that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves and that our challenges have been placed before us to accept or decline. I always go back to Lord of the Rings. The choice put before the Hobbits was very black and white. Destroy the ring or do not destroy the ring. Either way, life is going to get interesting. There was going to be battle. Would they battle for good or for evil? A person with a Christian conscience is always going to choose to battle for good.
Michael Novak showed brilliance in his book review and I am hoping he will continue to write about this topic. I also hope he doesn't mind that I quote him continuously I this piece:
"At the heart of Christianity is the sinner," a very great Christian once said. Some are aware of doing things that we know we ought not to have done and of not doing things that we know we ought to have done. We are aware of sinning against our own conscience – deliberately doing what we know to be wrong, whether from weakness or from a powerful desire that is still out of control.
Our positive or negative energy is not lost. I believe that's what Madeline L'Engle tried to teach in her series A Wrinkle in Time. The Universe is large and our actions affect all.
Here is how I have come to see our purpose. We are either here to face our individual challenges and to leave the world a better place than when we entered, or we are here to grab all we can –everyone else be damned. Once a person stops thinking life is a race to find some personal nirvana and recognizes that peace comes with acceptance of life's challenges, it's much easier to see the larger picture and recognize that life is bigger than ourselves. We can enjoy ourselves and find the good in everything around us. We evoke a positive energy and others feel this energy. Think of the movie The Others.
One final quote from Mr. Novak (thank you again for your words):
The Biblical respect for conscience greatly dignified and honored inner acts of reflection, commitment, and choice. It turned a powerful beam of attention away from the external act to the inner act of conscience. It greatly honored truthfulness and simple humility. Eventually, the inner duty of conscience toward the Creator became the ground of religious liberty – no other power dare intervene in this primal duty to God, which is antecedent to civil society, state, family and any other institution.
...Judaism and Christianity tend to think of God as Logos, light, source of all law and the intelligibility of all things. This difference in the fundamental conception of God alters, as well, the fundamental conception each religion has of the human being: understanding, or submission.
I will end this piece, with another quote that I heard my mother say when I was but a young child with so much life ahead of me. "Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do or die." Everything happens for a reason. Keep the faith.
Copyright © Nancy Salvato 2007
Nancy Salvato is the President of The Basics Project, www.Basicsproject.org a non-profit, non-partisan research and educational project whose mission is to promote the education of the American public on the basic elements of relevant political, legal and social issues important to our country. She is also a Staff Writer, for the New Media Alliance, Inc., a non-profit (501c3) coalition of writers and grass-roots media outlets, where she contributes on matters of education policy.