Friday, February 27, 2015

Hidden Gifts

One of the incredibly beautiful drawings
Jason Padgett made, of Hawking radiation,
and the way it emits from a black hole.
I've been reading about a man called Jason Padgett, who used to describe himself as "a jock and party guy" until he was savagely attacked in 2002. He was left with some serious injuries, especially to his head, and an understandable case of PTSD.

Yet, he says he wouldn't change what happened to him, because of this marvellous and strange thing... He woke up with enhanced mathematical abilities, and now sees the world in geometrical forms. He is an incredibly rare savant, having acquired his new abilities through trauma. It has changed his life so much, that he is now at varsity, studying number theory, this one-time jock who "never cracked a book". He found himself compelled to draw the most exquisite and detailed geometrical representations of mathematical relationships.

It got me thinking about what wonders are locked up in each of us, since the experts say there was nothing 'special' about his brain to start with. Apparently, given the right set of circumstances, any of us is likely to have this ability inside there somewhere. Really?! Good heavens. Not that I'd want to be beaten up outside a karaoke club in the hope that I'd become a savant, of course...

And yet, and yet - what happened to this guy, undeniably awful, gave him something he never had before, and with it, a new direction, and a new joy in his life. And isn't that a great picture of what tragedy, misfortune and obstacles so often bring about in our lives? We only see it later, and we may never see it if we focus on the bad thing that happened to us for too long.

The thing is - and I believe this with all my heart - there is always beauty to be found in tragedy, there is always a gift concealed in our suffering. For most of us, it's not quite as dramatic as Jason's story. For most of us, it won't be doctors who are amazed, it will be our families and friends when they see the change and growth that happens in us. Maybe you learn how to love more, maybe you learn how to be more accepting. Maybe you try something new, or reach out to someone else. Maybe you get more stroppy and confident. Who knows?

As long as you choose to find the gift, suffering is never the end of the story.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In honour of the 21 Libyan Martyrs

Nothing funny about this post, I'm afraid. I was challenged by a friend to "not look away", and actually watch the beheading of 21 Christians by Islamic State-affiliated men. I did so, after thinking long and hard about it. Yes, I wish I had never seen such terrible images. But oh, how my heart was moved. At first, I thought, "There are no words." Then I realised there were, and the words were bubbling up in me. Here they are...

Quietly, so quietly, they walk,
So still
Knowing that the end is here, on this beach
Quietly, they stand
Quietly, they fall to the sand,
These men
Calling on the Name as they prostrate themselves
in silence
Offering their necks, still praying as the knives
saw life away,
Quiet and brave beyond all understanding,
knowing there is another shore,
another beach,

where the Father will find them.