On Facing Adversity

Posted: October 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

None of us are spared – not one – from the onslaught of suffering that comes knocking at our doors. If the knock hasn’t yet come you can be sure that the hand of adversity is patient. It can wait us out and it does.

Adversity comes as the result of our own foolishness. Adversity comes because of the evil intentions of hearts that went dark. Much adversity seems little more than random; the weather pattern here, the timing there, our place of birth or some radical gene that until now has been out of country on holiday. For whatever host of reasons the time finally comes. We don’t seek it, we don’t want it, even if we threw the first rock that created the waves.

Our greatest inclination in the face of adversity is to cling tenaciously to the past. That’s where our moorings used to be. Used to be. But life before the arrival of the unwelcome guest will never be the same again. It’s gone. No matter how many times we sort through the assumed reasons things took place, the stories we or others concocted to explain what it all means, it is little more than a vapor. Which is why we have to discipline ourselves to see differently.

The quagmire of memory obscures our view of the real time trees waving in the fall breeze, the leaves falling right now as all things do fall. To be present, truly present, requires a certain defiance. To be present requires shaking a determined fist toward tired definitions that must discarded like a snake sheds its skin. Shed the valuations of others first; they are the least important. Then shed your own old worn out props. Drop those chains and let them sink to the bottom of the sea. Did you see and hear the bird greeting the morning? That is the voice of authority.

The real answer lies in the future – a shrouded future, to be sure – but the future. Every new possibility lives in that future house. If you’re going to take out a mortgage, let it be there, in some property on the edge of tomorrow. Sit on the deck that faces east and wait for every new rising.

At the same time that we become alive to the present – its every sense, movement, and unfolding – we orient ourselves to the future. It’s always arriving with gifts, the future is. And we know new things as a result.

And what? We learn a whole host of things all at the same time. We discover who are and who are not real friends. We identify and discard the superfluous. We don’t let the perspectives of others move into our house and take over the the living room. Since time is fleeting we don’t waste it on the unimportant. It doesn’t matter what people think or say: You decide. And you’ll be glad you did.

Adversity carries crystal clarity in its vest pocket.  That clarity reveals what direction the next chapter requires even without a detailed itinerary. There is freedom. Take it and don’t apologize to anyone for doing so. Take courage, too, for we have to stand tall with wonder in the present even as we look to the mystery of the future. For God’s sake don’t let anyone tell you what the ultimate meaning of the universe is. Don’t let anyone lecture you on God. And when people do bad things in this sorted world stand against them. Whether you stand for yourself or for the good of others do stand. Let the scars of battle be your teachers. Let them talk.

But wait, we must wait. We have to wait for joy. It creeps up from the dark side of the moon and spreads into a half-smile. When joy creeps over that lunar landscape it must be ridden, like a wave. The triumph of joy is that all the other categories by which we used to define ourselves start groaning and creaking, falling apart. Just let them, watch them, they’re not real.

Do you notice that well of energy and light that seems to flow at the same time from the center of you and from the still point at the center of the spinning universe? Yes, that’s it. That’s the joy that has been unmasked by adversity. Thank God, unmasked.

Now we’re ready. For anything and everything.


  1. Gloria Beranek says:

    I read this with a knowing smile and a nod of the head …. hoping that I will see her no more and that her visits would be minimal for my family and friends. To gaze on her beauty one must pay the price!

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