Death and Mystery

We like to think things happen for a reason. We like to think that if we are good, and play by the rules—whether they are the larger rules of the mainstream world or the rules we have crafted for ourselves out of our own vision of how life should be—then good things will happen to us. Possibly we need that comfort to go on living in a world full of accident and malice.

Of course that comforting belief has a terrible corollary—that if bad things happen, we somehow deserve them, or have brought them on.

Yet goodness is no true bulwark against loss and death and disease. Good people die, while those who are full of hate and greed and selfishness appear to thrive.

The Goddess doesn’t offer us easy comfort or consolation. We don’t have heaven to reward the good or a hell to punish the bad. We might believe, as Martin Luther King says, that the arc of the universe bends toward justice—but we observe that it has a long, long way to go.

Rebecca Tidewalker died yesterday. I don’t know why. She was a lovely young woman whose life was about service and love and work for justice, an artist, dancer, ritual-maker and teacher. She didn’t smoke. She ate organic food. She had a sweet and loving heart, and a deep willingness to look at her own shadows and do her own work. She had a loving partner and was joyfully seven months pregnant when she was diagnosed with fourth stage lung cancer. She embarked on a healing journey, together with her partner and her loving and supportive community, that became a model of how community can function at its best.

Her story should have had a happier ending. If anyone deserved a miracle cure, it was her. If ever there was someone who could call on the healing power of Witches and Mary and Jesus and a circle of loving friends, it was her.

Why should she die, why should her loving partner be bereft and her baby son left orphaned, when people who smoke and eat junk food, who spew hate and prejudice, who neglect their kids or abuse them, who wallow in greed and violence are still walking around alive on the good green earth?

I would like to believe that things happen for a reason, but that’s a belief for good times, to comfort us with some sense of security and continuity.

Bad times demand we confront the mystery—that we don’t know why. That there is no reason. That sometimes we just get dealt a really raw hand.

Or if there is a reason, a larger pattern, it’s so big we can’t see it. We’re staring at one puzzle piece, not the picture.

All we know is that we can choose how to play the hand we’re dealt. We don’t have faith in some ultimate judgment that will right all wrongs. But we do have faith that if we face our challenges with courage and love, we serve the great forces of healing and regeneration that surround us. A brave, loving and compassionate soul is like a light, that calls forth the best in everyone around her.

Rebecca and her community of loved ones and supporters have been a beacon for us all, an example of how community can be at its best.

A mist obscures a

Shining star. We can’t see it,

But the light remains.

There is no reason—no pat answer to the question, “Why him?” “Why her?” Or the question, “Why me?” that we all ask.

But there is meaning, the meaning that we make.

Rebecca Tidewalker, Iridaea, Solas, and all the loving community that surrounds you, I thank you for the way you have made death and disease and tragedy also mean love and connection and faith. I honor your courage, through my tears.

Weaver, Weaver,

Weave her thread,

Whole and strong into your web.

Healer, Healer,

Heal our pain,

In love may she return again.

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