Writing tends to be a very personal thing for me; I’m often hesitant to share certain pieces simply because they are so personal. I have revised perfectly turn-in-able (yes, I’m making up words) papers to preserve a bit of privacy. As best as my memory serves me, I think there have only been two papers I have written that have brought tears to my eyes. Now I know what you might be thinking – that this must be in response to the quality of the compositions as reflected in receiving harsh remarks and dismal grades. In the humblest way, I refute those notions. The first was for an English Comp class at Fredonia State that I wrote, centered around my brother leaving for college (these were not tears of joy – I missed him terribly.). The second is one I’ve been working on currently.
The paper I’ve been mulling over the last few days deals is in response to a book assigned for my elective class. Sharon Daloz Parks addresses the great need evidenced in young adults (in my context, college students) for mentoring and guidance during their “search for meaning, purpose and faith”. Parks expounds upon the significant influence of “shipwreck” experiences which occur in the lives of students: how students cope when their lives are disrupted and disoriented, full of dissonance and disequilibrium (how about that for a sequence of words that begin with dis-?). To put it plainly, how do we respond when our lives seem to be falling apart? I wrote of the experiences of friends that would qualify as such. As I recalled the stories that have left scars and wounds, serving as permanent reminders of past pain and despair, I ached for those whose stories I was telling. They were tales of lives lost, relationships broken, hopes dashed and struggles perpetuated. I had to pause more than once before being able to continue typing because I could no longer make out what was on the screen. I had been given the assignment with a twist; in effect, I was to write about stories that are not “happily ever after”. My accounts were of those who turned from faith in the face of trepidation.
Clearly this paper has not been a cheery assignment. But thankfully, there has been some beauty and glimmers of hope hidden between the lines of these histories. This work has served as a reminder to me of the resilience of people. We are often struck down, feeling defeated, disheartened and desperate. Yet we are not destroyed. Through the power of mercy and grace, along with the encouragement and support of those around us, we rise again. It amazes me. In these times we are often faced with the fragility and futility of life, and in turn, we evidence the strength and value that lies within. We often fail to acknowledge the strengths and talents that we have been enabled with; it may only be after another’s encouragement or a surviving a “shipwreck” that we come to see what we are made of.
“We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Paul, to the Corinthians