Heard from an old friend a couple of days ago. Hadn't heard from her for about one and a half years and didn't think much of it since she is a bit of a "free spirit".
Was quite happy to hear from her though, because I had missed her. She related the story of her year to me.
As it turns out, her little girl Trinity had contracted bone cancer and was undergoing what would hopefully be lifesaving chemo and other treatment. Last time I saw Trinity, she was around 4 and was a quiet, adorable little red-head full of playfulness and wonder.
It hit me hard to hear that she spends most of her time just being sick and staring at the ceiling. My own cancer experience is a walk-in-the-park compared to what she's going through and I would wager that her young heart and mind contain more courage to battle through this and sustain life than I have. I sure hope so.
Then it dawned on me that despite my years of searching for the answers that we all yearn to find, I've yet to uncover a satisfactory explanation of why there is evil and suffering in the world. Why the hardened hearts of the status quo don't explode with grief over the plight of these kids (and the thousands who die each day from hunger, preventable disease, and neglect) is beyond me.
So why evil, why pain and suffering in one so young and innocent? Plenty of people have an explanation ranging from "The Fall" to numerous other mythical or theological explanations, but I'm sorry...none of them seem to fit the bill of explaining why suffering is an integral and natural part of life.
The Buddha posited that our suffering comes from craving, from clinging to that which is impermanent and can never satisfy. I've seen this theory in action and know that it makes sense, but I wonder how much sense it makes to a child who has not even lived long enough to conceptualize impermanence?
If today was my last day, I would still struggle with those questions to which there seem to be no workable answers. I think of little Trinity and the thousands like her and can only hope that one day we will rise above the "human condition" to a deeper understanding and a more effective way of dealing with disease and handicap.