On Spirit & Scale


A girl we grew up with is in her final days of life. She is 21 and for the past two or three years has been battling a wicked form of cancer that has puzzled oncologists near and far. She is one of the most pure people that anyone has ever met, always with a kind word for others, and a generosity of spirit that you come across only a few times in life.

It’s a tough time for anyone who knows her. This isn’t the way things are supposed to happen. But right now, the question I ask right now isn’t “why.” As a matter of fact, and this is odd for a therapist to admit, I’m not finding questions to ask at all right now.

I think the reason for my lack of questions goes something like this:

I believe that there are powers and forces that exist beyond our ability to comprehend. I believe that God is bigger, more expansive, more powerful than any of us have the capacity to conceptualize. And I believe that this has to be the case, not for the observable reasons or miracles I can point to, but instead because of the times when I can’t point to a single one.

Allow me to walk you through my logic, or perhaps my lack thereof.

We’ll begin with the exposition of applicable laws and assumptions.

Let’s start with an oldie, but goodie. Newton’s third law of motion (yeah, I checked to ensure I had the number right) states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every force exerted, a force of equal magnitude is exerted right back.

We’re off to a great start. Let’s stick with the physics track for another one. We’ll call the universe a closed system for our own purposes here and note that within closed systems, energy, like matter, can neither be destroyed nor created. Instead it is conserved and simply changes into different forms. Swell.

Third, I believe that spirit is energy that we all possess. However you want to define it, positive energy, good juju, whatever, spirit is a force, and we carry it within us. Some folks do a better job of letting it shine than others, but we all have it.

Finally, energy x time = power.

I rid myself of questions by applying this to the impending death of our friend. Here’s how.

I believe that with her death, her spirit, and energy, and all of her power will be conserved and renewed. I know this. All of the energy that would have been generated over the long life she should have had (were an entirely rational force or being placed in charge of the universe) will not simply disappear. Her soul is too large, and her compassion too great to simply vanish.

Her power will be converted and stored, unleashed through everyone who was lucky enough to be a witness to her strength. The repercussions of her life and the spirits that she touched will be so great and so vast that no one person will be able to grasp them. Oh, we’ll try to. We’re hardwired to try to make sense of senseless things. The usual questions of “why” will fight their way back, time and again. But I believe that the entropy, the drive to disorder that the explosion of the star within this young woman’s heart is going to create, I believe it’s part of a bigger plan. One that we cannot see, and weren’t meant to. We’ll see bits and pieces, sure. The apple hit Newton, didn’t it?

In the months to come, there will be more events held and money raised. There will be lives changed and people touched. But the big picture, the true meaning, it won’t present itself in full to us. It’s the plan of a God bigger than anything than we were built to imagine.

I’m going to believe in that. I’m going to zoom out as far as I can, and when my brain hurts and my heart throbs for answers, I’m going to breathe deeply and recognize that God’s beyond what we were meant to know. And that’s alright.