Eyelash to Eyelash
Last month, my mother spent 3+ weeks in two hospitals with a rare autoimmune condition. The beast wreaked havoc on her arteries and organs, inflicting so much pain and damage that one of her doctors told us last week, she’s a “miracle.” Mama’s road to recovery could be a long one, but praise to the King she’s here.
Her time in the hospital was hellish at times. She was in agony, we couldn’t visit her because of COVID, we didn’t hear from her for days when she was struggling the most. In the first several days of her hospitalization, I succumbed to a cutting lack of faith or hope that she would ever get better. The day before she got sick, I had experienced a moment of grief thinking about her death, and I couldn’t shake the dread. My sister later told me she, too, had been thinking about Mom’s funeral.
A couple weeks into her hospitalization, I went on Facebook to ask for prayers. I scrolled in disbelief to see that the first three posts on my feed were friends reporting family tragedies. I sort of shook my head, baffled by the amount of suffering so many are enduring this year. Most people, like me, have whispered or yelled into the cosmos, “How can we reconcile an all-good God with the evil of the world?” The Holy Spirit gave me a tiny hint.
Wired into the very essence of man is a desire for good. Even those who committed the most atrocious acts in history were in pursuit of a (misguided and deranged) but perceived good. This innate thirst for meaning, for value, and ultimately for the Good from which all goodness flows, is at the heart of humanity. But look around. The world is falling apart. Suffering, pain, loss, and evil oozes out of every human story and institution. At the root of our deepest dilemma is the great battle between longing for and pursuing the Good and reconciling it with suffering and evil.
To reconcile means to make good again or to coexist in harmony. The Latin root cilia means “eyelash,” and if one is close enough to another to be eyelash to eyelash with him, the two are con cilia (“with eyelash”). If the two separate but become eyelash to eyelash once again, they re con cilia– reconcile. The mystery of reconciling good and evil is one we may never fully grasp until Heaven, since evil by its nature is the lack of good. However, there is a way to reconcile man with that which he longs for most, the Supreme Good.
The answer is nothing less than the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The literal reconciliation of man is that while we were sinners (evil), God (good) took the form of man and justified us, so that we could be one with the Source of all Good. There is nothing that comes anywhere near being as comforting or real. Because Christ died and rose again, we can be eyelash to eyelash with Him in eternal glory.
In the meantime, we must be hopeful. Earth, though imperfect, is full of His goodness. Though suffering and evil and temptation will come from all sides, Jesus Christ, Goodness Incarnate, is alive and here and close. Through prayer, Scripture, the Sacraments, the love of a friend, a beautiful sunset, a bottle of wine, we encounter goodness and the Source of it. He offers reconciliation daily. He desires our good. He wants to be so close that our faces touch.
I got to see Mama after 2 weeks on July 14th. It will forever be one of the most powerful days of my life. We talked for hours about the world, God, suffering, sanctity, love, and hope. She kept saying, “Heaven and earth are full of His glory.” She spoke of healing and her desire to walk “arm and arm” with God fearlessly.
On the drive home, I rode into the rolling mountains of northern New Hampshire and saw the thickest tail of a rainbow popping out of a cloud like the ones they depict in paintings of Heaven. Then, as the sun settled behind the road in my rearview, the poofy clouds became purple, pink, orange, and blue. Mama was right (per usual). Heaven and earth are full of His glory. A peace came over me that hit like warm sunlight when it first touches your skin. Though we will never fully understand in this life the mystery of suffering or reconcile evil with the good we so desire, there are glimpses all around that point to the glory, joy, and goodness yet to come.
“May the God of hope fill you with peace and joy in your faith, so that in the power of the Holy Spirit you may be rich in hope.” -Romans 15:13
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Bridget is from outside Boston but resides in Washington, DC where she works for a pro-life nonprofit in government relations. She played soccer and softball while attending Christendom College in VA. She’s a big fan of invading the personal space of other people’s dogs, going to baseball games on summer nights, and eating McDonald’s #2 meals (no mustard, add mayo).