Walking Alone
    Carolyn Steele Agosta
Two nights ago I went to Mass. A memorial Mass for the people killed in the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A thanksgiving Mass for all those who survived, and a Mass for peace and unity in the days to come.

I hated it.

The priest spoke of God and His love. How He was always there for us. How we can't lose our faith over acts that seem unbelievable, unexplainable, unforgivable. How God knows our grief and despair and will be holding our hands in the days ahead.

I didn't believe a word of it.

How could all this happen? How could God look down from His mighty throne and not stop those planes? How could He allow 20 madmen to kill over 6,000 people? Why would He? Have we turned away from Him too much? Are we so evil and despicable, in our greed for sensation and material things, for Him to reach out His hand and save us? People have spoken of 'miracles', of being within a hair's-breadth of being killed and yet somehow surviving. What does that mean for the ones that died? No one was willing to perform a miracle for them?

I'm angry. I'm so very angry. I want to scream and curse and hurl things across the room. I want to smack the face of every smug believer who says "these things happen for a reason, we can only have faith and pray". I want to beat the people who say "everything is going to be all right". I want to find the ones responsible and punish them until they wish they'd never lived. I want to...

I want to believe again. My God, it's lonely and scary here without You. Why have You forsaken us? Did You ever really exist? Did Mankind just dream You up, to help them through the terrifying unexplainable moments of life and death? Why do You allow these things? WHY?

It's been hard enough, even before September 11, to believe. I've been watching my mother die, watching her suffer, watching her wither and age and become frail in body and mind and tried to believe. Tried to tell myself there's a reason for everything, that God wouldn't make a good woman like her suffer for no reason. But damn it, God, You make it hard.

I still believe in people. The good they can do is overwhelming, and the kindness they can extend is what I always thought was Your body on earth. Your hands reaching out through them, Your words coming to me from their lips, Your love touching me through their acts of mercy. And now, I just don't know.

At the end of that Mass, I spoke with a friend. He said, "It's good to see everyone here, on their knees. I could feel God's love here." I told him I didn't. I didn't feel it there, in the church, and I didn't feel it here, in my heart. His eyes welled up and he hugged me, and I loved him for that. But I'm still scared and I'm lost in a lonely place.

God, help me believe. I feel like a stranger here now.


In Posse: Potentially, might be ...