Friday, 29 March 2013

Faith

The question has arisen many times lately about where was God in all the terrible things that have been happening in the world.It is very hard to answer that question even for somebody of faith like me. Many of my friends, and I have to say some of my enemies, ask me why God did not stop these things happening. It is a very good question. That is until one thinks deeply about it. Most of the terrible things that happen in the world are perpetrated by people. As an example it is not God who murders somebody but a man or woman. Then there is the idea of God as a puppet master. We all know how puppets are moved. The puppet master pulls the strings and the puppet follows.Do most people want to be controlled by a puppet master. The answer is no. Most people value free will. That is what we have been given. To help us fulfil the will of God, He has laid out the rules we should follow. It is not his fault that we do not heed His advice.
The world would be a better place if we all did follow His advice. The lessons can be een in the Easter Story.
In my novel Running After Maria James has doubts about God and the world. This is an extract:


As we drove away from the hospital in the bright light of the sun through the village which was so familiar, following the roads along which I had often walked with Maria, the car passed the small church where Maria and her family had worshipped.  On impulse, I asked Brian to stop the car. As I climbed out of the car struggling with the plaster and the crutches, I was conscious that Brian was holding Sylvie by the arm to prevent her from coming with me. Gratefully, I nodded briefly in his direction and set off alone up the path to the door of the church. The door was closed but as I went to turn the handle, it swung open and I shuffled inside. 
My crutches made thumping noises on the wooden boards of the floor of the church, the sound echoing among the rafters as I made my unsteady way down the aisle. A quick glance around confirmed I was alone and for this I breathed a small sigh of relief. I do not know how I would have reacted if there had been other people in the church but was glad that there was no need to socialise in an empty church. 
There, at the front of the church near the pulpit, I found what I was looking for, what I had come into the church to find. It was just as Mrs. Tourvelinen had described to me while I had been lying in that hospital bed  listening to her talk. Leaning on my crutches, I gazed almost unseeing at the new plaque which had been fixed to the wall beside the others. I cannot recall the Finnish words, lost as most of that language is to me now, except the name Mairuinna Tourvelinen. Underneath, it said words to the effect of in loving memory. I stood there in the quiet of that church supported by my crutches and found that those words engraved on a plaque had finally convinced me that Maria was gone. The words on that plaque and the memories in my mind, which would not fade, had become all that was left of my love. At that thought, tears came unbidden to my eyes and I heard a voice intoning in that special voice which ministers reserve for funerals "ashes to ashes, dust to dust."  Reflected in the tears was a vision of Maria's face slowly crumbling into dust and being spread by a wind across her beloved lake. 
" Good bye Maria," I said aloud, my voice echoing through the empty church. " I will leave Karl with your mother so that he can be brought up as a Finn just as you would have wanted. I will find it very hard to come back to this land again. It would seem so barren and cold without your love to surround me with warmth and joy. The sun which seemed to smile on me whenever I arrived in Helsinki has now set and it is as though darkness has fallen on me and I have no idea when it will ever become light again. Why did you have to be taken away just as we seemed to have solved our small problems?  Karl will miss you and I cannot cope with him without you. Every time I look at him, I am reminded of you and want you so much.  Goodbye Maria.  Rest now in peace to which we all must come in the end. If there is a heaven, I will see you there." 
I stood in silence then letting the tears dry on my face, composing myself so that I would be able to face Brian and Sylvie again. 
A voice from behind me suddenly intruded into my thoughts speaking English with a strong Finnish accent. " Hello. You must be James, Karl's father." 
I turned slowly, trying not to trip on my crutches. An irrational anger was taking hold of me, bubbling to the surface, sending a red mist into my mind.  Without any reason, I resented this person who was trying to come between me and my silent parting from Maria. 
A young clergyman stood behind me, holding out his hand in greeting as though welcoming me to his church. In a gesture which was quite alien to me, I ignored the hand and stood glowering into his face. 
" Yes," I growled leaning heavily on my crutches. I tried to fight down the anger that was clouding my mind but it was a struggle. For a moment I thought of pushing past him and getting out of the church without saying anything but he was  in the way. " Yes, I am Karl's father." 
He withdrew his hand with a shrug and put it into the pocket of his coat. By the expression on his face, I guess he was trying to find the right words to express his thoughts. For a long time we stood and looked at each other. 
" I am sorry about Maria," he began and to my amazement in English. He was choosing his words with care and obviously translating from Finnish as he slowly spoke. " She was one of our keen young members when she lived in the village. Everybody in the congregation liked her and after she moved to Helsinki, welcomed her enthusiastically when she came here to visit her parents. The people of the church will miss her visits but we will all pray for her. We are convince she is resting with Him. I know it is very difficult so close to the event for you to even start to understand but you must try. His ways are not our ways. We must accept this mystery even at times of grief. We should pray together now.  Praying helps us to come to terms with our grief and to start the process of understanding. Praying also opens our hearts to His healing power." 
The anger that I had been trying to control since this man had interrupted my silent last farewell to Maria burst from me in a raging stream. Even though it was only my voice, he rocked back on his heels as though afraid I was about to hit him. 
" You and all the people of this church will sadly miss her?  You do not know what she was really like. You have not felt the excitement in anticipation of meeting her after a long parting. You have not felt the softness of her body on waking in the mornings. You have not felt happiness of just being together. Where is your God, who in His infinite wisdom, takes all this away? What sort of God is He to bring misery out of happiness? Oh it is so easy for the likes of you to say that the meaning of what happens on this earth is a mystery. It is easy to say that we must accept what ever happens to us here on earth.  Oh yes, the reward for all our suffering will be in heaven. Where the hell is your proof of this reward in the face of what takes place on earth? " 
I realise now that it was very unkind of me, that venting of my anger on this person who happened to be in the church. It was not his fault or the fault of his church what had happened to Maria. It was just that I was about to leave Finland and I had come at last to the understanding that I would never see Maria again. I was so angry, it would not have mattered who had walked into the church right at that moment, I would have reacted in the same way. There was nothing I could do to stop myself and he just happened to be the target for letting all the vicious anger out of my system. " There was nothing bad about Maria. She was kind and honest all the time we were living together. However, she died before she had a chance to really live. Look around the world and tell me what you see. Where is the evidence of a merciful and loving God? There is no such evidence available. The bad always seem to triumph over the good.  Evil abounds where ever one looks. People are subjected to misery through no fault of their own. Religious faith is a cruel joke pushed onto the people by the few who have power. If you are poor and without hope now, all will turn out right in the end even though you will have to die first. You should not be envious of us, just be patient and wait for your time to come. I will have none of this. There is no way in which you can help me and I will grieve for Maria in the way I choose." 
With those words echoing around the church, I turned on my crutches with as much dignity as possible and left the church. By the time I had reached the door and emerged into the sunshine, my anger was subsiding fast. I turned at the door and looked back. He was still standing where I had left him, his head turned to the door and a look of surprise on his face. 
RUNNING AFTER MARIA can be purchased from Amazon as a paperback or ebook for downloading to a Kindle.
Also from www.smashwords.com for downloading as an ebook to all electronic readers.
And www.createspace.com as a paperback.
Happy reading!