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  • Sarah Raad

Futility

Who would not wish to dance for JOY if they were standing in the Holy, Beloved, Sacred Presence of the ONE TRUE GOD?

Pieta (Michelangelo)

There is a very beautiful poem, a sonnet, written by the famous War Poet, Wilfred Owen, called “Futility”. It is a beautifully heartbreaking examination of the futility of war, written while Owen was a soldier during the First World War and prior to his death in battle.


In the poem, the poet looks at the carnage of the First World War and the terrible loss of human life and dignity – at the overall wastefulness of war – and asks, “Was it for this the clay grew tall?” That line is a pivotal moment in the text, because that is the point where the poet questions the creation of Adam, who is “the clay” grown tall by God. There, looking at the loss and waste and sinfulness of humanity that had resulted in the disastrous and unprecedented loss of life in World War One, the poet considers the loss futile.


It is this feeling of futility – this feeling of loss and pointlessness – that causes the greatest pathos in this text. It is the poet’s feeling of being utterly deserted by God who has allowed such tragedy to befall humanity that draws the emotion from the responder to the text.


I have been familiar with this feeling of futility in my own life. After the loss of my precious little baby who died before he was born, this feeling of futility was the most prevalent of all the feelings that floated around inside my mind. My child’s life seemed futile. My child’s death seemed futile. By extension, my own life and death also seemed futile. My grief and loss seemed futile. The whole of existence seemed futile.


In those days, I was stupid enough to consider my Beloved God was merely a caricature of God – like the ancient Greek and Romans deities who toyed with humans for their selfish entertainment and through their selfish pride and vanity – I considered Him mean and nasty.


How wrong I was! How blind! Poor God!


Saint Faustina wrote in her diary, “I have understood, the greater the knowledge (of God) the greater the love” (Diary 974). And this knowledge is not merely knowledge gleaned through study and effort – though this is an important part of our formation as Catholics – for we are children of God.


And God treats us as the children that we are.


For me, this has translated very literally in my life. My formation is as limited as that of an infant child. I know nothing. I stray towards dangers of sin without even understanding what they are – as an infant rolls to the end of a bed or sinks beneath the water of bath without understanding the dangers. And yet, God is my Beloved. I harken to the sound of His voice. And He calls me. Knowing that I am ignorant – the KING OF CREATION, the MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE, my BELOVED – calls out to me.


And hearing His voice, I can turn from the edge of the bed or rise from the water in the bath ad am saved. And when I have not the strength to do even these small things to save myself – my Beloved does them for me.


He is my Father, my Dad, my Daddy. He is my Brother, my friend. He is my Love. And He looks after me – even as I tear His hair and poke His eye and dribble all over His neck. Even as I cry and scream and tantrum – my Beloved looks after me.


So too, does He look after you. For my Beloved is your Beloved too.


How else could you explain what happened to me after the Graces wrought through prayers for my precious baby niece last year when she was so ill?


In an instant… In a blinding flash of light… the sword that had long been embedded in my heart was removed from it and the slow deadly haemorrhage of my soul was healed – just as the haemorrhaging woman was healed by touching merely the hem of His garment. God was kinder to me than He was to that woman. He healed my hurt without my even being able to reach out to ask it of Him. He healed me through LOVE. And because of God – because He reached for me when I was unable to reach for Him – I knew, truly KNEW… PEACE.


A lifetime of hearing about peace and talking about peace and listening to others talks about peace, a lifetime of sacraments and religious worship and adoration and there I was – at almost 40 years of age – with absolutely no TRUE knowledge of PEACE.

And then, in an instant, a blinding flash – through Grace and no merit of my own – peace entered into my heart – through NO MERIT OF MY OWN – but simply because my Beloved chose to give it to me then.

And all the years before seemed waste of breath. Except…


Do you know how much I value this peace because of those wasted years?


If I only had the words to express to you the sheer wonder that fills my soul in thinking of My Prince of Peace who gives me Rest, you would DIE OF JOY to hear.


When I was a little girl, I wondered what could be so great about Heaven if all we had to do was sit around and adore God. Now I know. I actually KNOW. Imaging in Heaven, we can sit around and ADORE GOD. Imagine the love.


Thank God the next life is ETERNAL – for it shall surely take eternity for me to articulate even a fraction of the infinite love and mercy of God. Thank God the next life is eternal, because though I am not worthy to see God’s Holy Face, such a vision would surely cause me to die of JOY if I was capable of dying in the next life.


So, as to all that suffering that came before, all the grief and sadness, all the loss, all the millions and billions of tears that I cried... All. Of. It.


I would embrace all of it over and over and over again, even until the end of all time. But I would change this…


I would SEE through my tears. I would not allow them to BLIND me. I would see the Holy Path upon which my feet do tread. And I would know that “The God of all Grace who has called you to His eternal glory through Christ will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you after you have suffered a little.” (1 Peter 5:10).


And then, I will be able to dance – not walk – all the way to Calvary.


For after all, who would not wish to dance for JOY if they were standing in the Holy, Beloved, Sacred Presence of the ONE TRUE GOD?


For with joy, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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