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I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest.  I do not judge the universe.  Dalai Lama

They rolled in early in the morning, well before 9 AM, and you heard the “beep-beep-beep” of massive trucks backing up and turning around.  There was a scraper attachment on the front of the first one, and it lifted up the worn-down top layer of black-top on the road.  The scraped-up black-top was then funneled into a dump truck following behind via a long metal tube.  Behind these two trucks was a crew laying down the new, gloppy black-top.  After they poured down the black goo, they all got off the trucks and pulled out shovels.  They dug around driveways that had potholes (like mine) and smoothed the driveways’ ends into the newly-paved road.  Then came the steamrollers, back and forth, for hours on end.

There was a lot of noise, a lot of equipment and a lot of manpower out there on my road today.  The fact is, it takes a lot of work to un-do a road, especially if you plan to re-do it.

Imagine how much effort and energy it must take to un-do bad attitudes, dark thoughts and crushed spirits.  And what kind of power it must take to re-do a soul that’s a fixer-upper.  It takes a tear-down to pave the way for a build-up.

Lately, because of the things happening in my life, in particular, to my family, I’ve been having bouts of doubt.  Maybe it should be capitalized, like a chronic condition.  Bouts of Doubt.  Could even be classified in the ICD-9 DM soul diagnostic manual.

When I saw the quote, above, by the Dalai Lama, I realized that this is what’s going on in my faith life.  I’m judging God.  I’ve actually prefaced a prayer with, “Now, I’m sure You have your reasons….” and “I don’t doubt You; I just question Your methods.”

Seeing these words written on the page, it really is ridiculous.  Me, calling God on the carpet.  Heck, He invented carpet!  Even remnants.

So I’m working on getting past one of my Pet Proclivities:  judging others.  Only in this case, I’m judging the way God is working in my life.  He’s been patient as I’ve let my Jersey out from time to time.  “Not for nuttin, Lord, but what gives?”

I’ll work on re-vamping my own road, and keep believing that, with all the detours I’ve taken and the potholes that abound, I can find my way back home to hope.  Until then, I’ll just keep on truckin.

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With only a battery-powered radio to keep me in touch with the outside world, I heard staggering stories of loss and devastation. I heard about the Boardwalk being washed away, houses sitting in the middle of the highway, and commentators referring to “what was formerly known as the Jersey Shore,” but assumed that they had to have been exaggerating. When I finally got the cable back and watched the storm coverage on television, it was far worse than I could ever have imagined.

It was hard to absorb it all. How did this storm uproot trees on my block and tear down my fence? I mean, it was incredibly loud all night long, like furious freight trains surrounding us, but the house wasn’t shaking or anything. How was this kind of damage possible? My neighbor’s pool was crushed by an enormous hundred-year-old oak. Wires were down, traffic lights weren’t working, power was out.

The first day back to a local grocery store was chaotic. The power was out and all the frozen goods freezers were cordoned off with yellow tape as if it was a crime scene. It was all spoiled, unsellable. The lights were out in the store and the few shoppers there looked at each other in the dark, shell-shocked. The skeleton crew of staff kept saying, “No refrigerated items. No debit or credit. No batteries. No bottled water.”

By the time I left the store, I knew it like a mantra. This was the case everywhere, so there was nowhere else to go to shop for food, and nowhere to put it at home if we did find it. We had no power for our refrigerator either.

Driving on Jersey roads after Sandy was treacherous; traffic lights weren’t working and cross-streets were blocked, so you had to drive a mile out of your way to turn around. Trees were down everywhere and debris had to be avoided. Gas stations were closed so you had to be judicious about expending the little gas you had left in your car. The situation seemed to bring out the worst in the few drivers on the road and it seemed best not to venture out unless absolutely necessary.

I kept reminding myself that we still had a house while many down the shore had lost everything. I tried to keep it all in perspective, but something just got stuck in my craw and I felt far – very far – from the Source of my strength.

Finally, I was able to pray openly and honestly. With all due respect – I began – why would You put us through these life-altering storms? It became a metaphor for the ongoing struggles in my personal life that seem to have no solution. How could I reconcile my belief that God is in charge and God is good with the chaos and pain in the world and in my life?

So I’ve had to learn to just hold on until I make it through. I tried to encourage others by updating my blog with information about the power outage in Central Jersey, just trying to find a way to be useful. As for me, I want to know what tomorrow will bring, but for now, I have no clue. I have to start right where I am, and get to work on re-building the foundation of my faith.

My spiritual house may have been renovated by the storms of life, but the load-bearing beam is hope. Even if today was surreal and soul-squashing, tomorrow comes, and brings with it promise and possibility. Sometimes it’s just a matter of making it through the night.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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