At a Hymn Society Conference some years ago I was asked for a hymn in response to ‘All things bright and beautiful’ which took ‘bad’ things seriously, things like cancer. This exploration of creation of ‘bad things’, technically theodicy, followed.
Things we know are never wholly certain,
we fathom and explore,
we test the tangled evidence
while seeking to decide.
This is the time of crisis,
a time for making choices.
Life sometimes stutters,
moving on in stages.
At others it seems seldom interrupted.
Day to day passes without incident.
Then the cancer, infarction,
crippling us with indecision.
Death is inevitable since our birth.
But should we, as the poet wrote,
‘strive against the dying of the light’?
Or, windhover like, roll, riding on the steady air,
swing in mastery of this fluid existence?
Broken pinioned we may plummet,
But is it worth the struggle?
To claw heavenward,
at what present cost?
And all that now determines action will sound ephemeral,
of little consequence.
Such impulses drive the decisions we will make,
for life or death,
in love or grace.