“I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.” -Dalai Lama
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” -Albert Pike
I’ve been weeping most of the morning, because I found out yesterday that one of my college students died over the weekend. She was 23 years old. I had her in three of my classes, so I got to be blessed by, and enjoy her sense of humor, her intelligence, and her smiling face. Her death is tragic. I’m tempted to ask why this happened, but I know that it’s just the mystery of life.
Something about her death brought back the sense of loss I felt when my seven week old nephew, and some years later my father died. What does it all mean? I don’t know, but I have a deep feeling inside that everything that happens to us has a purpose. Even the bad stuff has meaning.
Now, I’ve heard scientists, and researchers say that we’re hard wired to find patterns, make connections, and find the deeper meaning of things. Some people think life is just absurd, and there is no purpose to anything. Maybe they’re right. Today, I’m leaning in that direction. But here’s the thing, if there wasn’t a purpose why are we here?
You can tell me that life on this planet developed through a series of coincidences. That an uncaring god created us, or everything exists because of random cosmic events. Go ahead and believe that if you want to. I just don’t buy it. Maybe I don’t buy it, because I’ve always known that there is a higher power of some sort. I’ve experienced her/his presence, and had profound life altering experiences, which lead me to conclude that everything in the Universe has a purpose. Every being contributes vital energy, or maybe something deeper, to whatever mystery is going on; the mystery of life.
Brené Brown says we’re hardwired for connection. Weddings, graduations, birthdays, health challenges, promotions, job losses, births, and deaths help bind us closer together, if we let them. If that’s the only purpose we have for sharing this planet, then I’m in. I want to deepen my connections with my loved ones. I want to bring something to the table that helps others grow and expand. My student did that.
A year ago, almost to the day, she played Glinda the Good Witch in a juvenile production of The Wizard of Oz. It was a joint production with the elementary school and the college. The students loved her. Throughout the rehearsal process, she helped them understand that giving in to petty personal feelings hurts you, your performance, and hurts the show. She helped them understand what it means to be a disciplined performer. I know that’s not her only legacy, but that’s a huge one. Something she could be proud of.
So, today I’ll weep for my loss, and the deeper loss her family, and friends feel. I’ll trust that the ripples she set in motion during her short life, will continue to grow, and add meaning to those of us who remain.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014