“In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.”
I think many times in life, even when it seems we have a plan, we have a direction, we have a “life”, we can still find ourselves feeling, well, a bit “lost” as it were. Spinning our wheels somewhat aimlessly, spiraling as if out of control, going nowhere and going there fast.
Oddly enough when I think of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, the body of work which gives us today’s quote, I think of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Two very different stories written during two very different time periods, written in two very different countries, in two very different languages and yet they are two stories intertwined, unbeknownst to each author, about the adventure of life which desperately needs a reality check—a reminder of what life has been and if things don’t change, what life could be, unless there is a drastic about face, a turing around with a change of heart.
Dickens’ focus is more on a life lived simply for self and for greed with little to no regard for those less fortunate— or in Scrooge’s case, a regard for no one, not even particularly himself, other than the dispassionate making of money at all costs.
Dante’s tale is also a story about life—or rather lives lived wantonly with little to no regard to the fate of living such morally devoid lives—complete with a vivid and sober reminder of the results of living with such “sinfulness” and of how that leads to the spiraling, and apparently hopeless, journey into the results of that “sinfulness”……..
Each story has a guide leading our characters on their journey of discovery. Each guide eventually leaves our characters on their own. The hope is that each character, having seen the ugly reality of such lost living, has time to bring about change, positive change.
In Dante’s case the change is actually left up to the viewer—live a life like these folks and you’re stuck in a ring of hell–it’s all just a matter of which ring. In Scrooge’s case it’s a matter of change so you don’t wind up like Jacob Marley with the weight of your sins hung on your neck for all of eternity.
And I suppose it helps if you believe in an afterlife– otherwise I suppose the consequences of your life’s action would be simply nil. And yet— believing in an afterlife or not, believing in a heaven or hell or not, there is always the effect your actions have with those of which you share this planet.
This past week a tragedy happened in our county. It actually took place in a neighboring city of ours.
My husband is in a business where he has several competitors in our town, as well as in the neighboring towns. These businesses, whereas they do compete against one another, there remains a mutual respect and cohesiveness amongst all the businesses. This week, on Wednesday, during the middle of the day, 4 men entered a competing business, in a neighboring community, with hammers in order to “smash and grab”—a brazen type of robbery during the midst of a busy work day.
But rather than just smashing and grabbing—stealing and leaving—something went even more terribly wrong. The store owner was shot and killed.
He leaves behind a wife and two sons. He went to work that morning and in a terrible span of 15 seconds, that’s how long these men were in his business, his life was cut short and he wasn’t going home to his family that evening.
This sort of crime, even though our county is but an hour away from a major metropolitan city, is unheard of here. Our communities are such where people grow up together, go to school together, raise families together, go to friday night high school football games together in order to compete against one another, attend church together, shop together, simply live together — but violent crimes such as this….no, certainly not here. Not when you can drive 3 minutes out of our communities and find cows grazing in their fields, children riding their bikes, fruit markets set up selling the latest harvest…………
As word spread of this heinous act Wednesday afternoon, my husband’s phone wouldn’t stop ringing. Customers streamed into his store wanting to just “hug his neck”—-people were suddenly and sadly struck by the fragility of life.
The police apprehend one of the “men” who was left behind by his fleeing accomplices—he was the 16 year old gunman. Yesterday another man was apprehended many many miles from our community. These men were not from here but from the major metropolitan city. Last night, on the nightly news, one of the apprehended men was being lead into a courtroom for a bond hearing where he proceeded to repeatedly shoot the news cameras “a bird”——a life is taken for nothing and he shoots a bird to the news crew……I just don’t understand.
Fear has now gripped our county, our neighbors, our business owners. I now look at my husband each morning and I wonder if he will come back home in the evening—or not.
My faith is such that I do believe in prayer, I do believe in hope and I must believe in forgiveness.
Did these men think about taking a life and of the ramifications of such? I doubt it. Do they now think of the consequences of their actions? I don’t think their thoughts are as mine would be—-I don’t even know if they care—maybe the remaining two “on the run” only care about not getting caught, maybe they all just care about being stuck in a jail–going through a trail, maybe facing the death penalty—do they think about that? Do they think about God and what may happen if there is no redemption on their part????? Do they think of this man whose life they stole?
Of his now bereft family? I doubt it.
These sorts of actions by a few make life forever different for many others.
I do believe in God and I do believe in Hope—-the flip side to not believing is pretty grim.
May we all stop and ponder the course our actions and of the effect they have on those in which we share this planet and may our thoughts now also be with one very sad family and community—as this is not an isolated event—this sort of thing is playing out all over this country of ours—violence serves no purpose, I wonder when we will ever figure that out……..will there ever be redemption in the hearts of these men???????…………