Monday, December 29, 2008
In 2008 “loss” has been very palpable. The Dow Jones Industrial average has lost 36%, the S&P 500 40.5% and the Nasdaq 42.5% - this stock market decline being the worst since 1931. Housing values have also lost $2 trillion in value with about 12 million Americans currently owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. The number of homes going into foreclosure is around 2.2 million, in part because two million jobs have been lost and a million more job cuts are expected in 2009.
I also was laid off from career positions – twice, and consecutively. The life I had envisioned consisted of increasing gains with nothing much ever going wrong, and finally entering old age peacefully with praise and honor.
Piece by piece, all of those expectations disintegrated. First it was financial stability, then long term relationships, finally even core beliefs – loss bit into all, and is not done biting.
If loss never took away outer things, the world as we want it to be, ourselves as we think we are, it would be possible to live in an imaginary state forever, satisfied with imperfection and incompletion, never motivated enough to break free.
But there is a time to grow and a time to wither – this is obvious in nature. The Bible also speaks of a “time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away” (Ecc 3:6).
Looking back, the times which have been most excruciating in terms of loss are also the most memorable and inwardly transformative. Humans have tremendous inertia to resist the loss experience, to begrudge it, to just endure it and hope it will end soon so we can get on with the “gain and growth” side of the cycle.
But the heart longs for this experience of outward loss. Until that happens, its needs remain deluged and unrecognized in the doings and activities of exterior existence.
Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24).
It is not easy to welcome Loss and offer it a seat of honor at our table, especially since this is not a mere conceptual proceeding but rather one with teeth that usually hurt. But it is the pathway to freedom and salvation that has been established in the universe.
Therefore we may reasonably hope that our planet, our country and ourselves are currently being offered the greatest possible gift, in the form of . . . Loss.
Posted by DEE at 9:16 AM