When I was growing up and my high school friends and I would go to the County fairs, I was always the one who stayed on the ground and held everyone else’s belongings. I hated the rides. As an adult, I have NEVER outgrown the fear or dislike of roller coaster rides and always choose NOT to get on them. My preference would be “It’s a small world after all” style…not a lot of highs and lows, just easy music and delightful scenes!
My idea of thrill seeking is to take my Subaru and drive it through a snowdrift in our Mission parking lot, just to prove to myself I can still maneuver in snow!
My idea of thrill seeking is to feed a malnourished child, provide medical care to the poor and marginalized, see the joy of a homeless family as they walk into a 12 x 12 home shelter looking like they’ve been given a 25 room mansion….or letting out a “woo hoo” should the Boston Red Sox win another World Series!
However, the “roller coasters of life” are not optional nor always smooth and easy. Over the years, I, like all of you, have encountered the exhilarating and the frightening extremes of life.
Like all of you, I have friends and mentors, family members, Dominican Sisters in my Congregation and yes, my soul mate and best friend, Sister Stephanie, experiencing unsolicited roller coaster rides in life right now. One is near death, some are struggling with addiction or relationship issues, others are worried about retirement, some are very ill, and some are facing the inevitable limitations that come due to age or infirmity.
These roller coaster life experiences are NOT artificially created due to some genius’ ability to make the ride higher, scarier and more entangled. They ARE the realities on this journey we call LIFE and present their own set of highs and lows, challenges, gratitude and joy, sighs of relief, or depth defying pain and grief.
At times this journey can be exhilarating or it can plunge us into the depths of darkness and despair. The road of darkness and fear because of our love for others, can be filled with a long list of “whys” and we can feel like we are thrust into our own real life horror movie, or wish we could awaken from this nightmare. Yes, there are also many moments of deep blessing, joy and hope. It’s all a roller coaster of life and we never quite know which dip or height we will be on next.
Yet, I do know that even in my worst moments of the roller coaster events in life, there is a God who loves us beyond measure. There is a God who promises us a “future finally of hope” as the Prophet Jeremiah reminds us. While this belief doesn’t minimize my or your struggles in life, I/we must grasp the hope that there is a God who also joins us (and sometimes carries us) as we experience those dark moments. May we all know and experience the peace that only comes with that depth of faith(even in our doubting moments- of which I have many)…. for that is our source of hope!