Happy Easter! I've been religious my entire life, so it it sometimes hard to speak or write on religious themes with originality--how can I do justice to the meaningfulness of the same core beliefs I've heard repeated so many times? The ideas themselves have a vitality that transcends what I can say of them, but I will add that my heart is sincerely full of gratitude for the good news--the belief in life beyond death, the great miracle that is repentance, and the idea that participating in faith and partaking in ritual can help us to grow holier. I think often of what it means to live as a Christian; I'm beginning to understand the importance of relationships and community.
Circa 2003 in Prague, I was visiting with a good friend and fellow Mormon whom I had met at church. She was, like me, a foreigner far from home, (Ukraine, in her case) and single, but about seven or eight years older. She was frustrated with lack of dating opportunities, perceived unfriendliness at church, and general heartache and disappointment. One afternoon I was over at her house, drinking fruit tea and eating wafer cookies (how very Czech of us). She was verbalizing all her loneliness, her pain and anger at life's injustice. I remember feeling so linguistically inadequate--I could understand most of what she was saying to me, but didn't quite have the skill to try to assuage her grief-- an intricate and delicate task, to be sure, and one that could be easily botched by someone with a limited vocabulary or pragmatic range. So instead, I mostly just nodded and gave her sympathetic glances, punctuated by the occasional "Omlouvam se"--I'm sorry.
I felt regret afterwards for a long time--there was so much I was prepared to say to her, and felt I couldn't for fear it would come out wrong--things about my own loneliness, timing, and the purpose of suffering and what good might come from it. But now I look back and think how fortunate it was that my poor Czech forced me to remain mostly silent. I don't know that my pedantic attempts at comforting her would have done much good. They may have even been harmfully trite and cliched. I've come to think that perhaps expressing our most profound hurt to another person is simply a request to share the grief, at least a bit, at least for a moment--therein lies the comfort, in the companionship itself, not in the substance of the response, definitely not in simple answers about God's will or what good may come. What more can be said, really, than "I'm sorry"?