Festival of Lights
My friend’s house burned down Christmas morning. Not down, but in. Nonetheless, I feel terrible. While she was pulling her special papers out of the smoke, the firefighters wheeling up her drive, I was on a raft in the Opryland Hotel with my daughters and niece, looking at overfed catfish.
There is that guilt. The kind that people tell me I am crazy for feeling. What could I have done? It wasn’t my fault. But it’s not that. It is the fact that I am safe and warm while people suffer in tsunamis and Katrina and I don’t do enough to help. It is in my DNA to feel this way. That is why my first adult career was a Christian missionary (more about that later). I was told there were people “without hope, without faith,” and when I got there, thought “Crap, where did you get this hope and this faith? They said you were all out.”
I had been handed something to deliver to people that would solve problems and offer help. Of course I was devastated to find it wasn’t true, that the people from the land of diabetes and mortgages had little to offer those whose religion predated mine and left them smiling as they lived in thatched houses.
So when there is something that I can do that is tangible, help someone who just lost their belongings, it becomes sort of an emotional emergency for me. It is my need, more than theirs that drives me.
Recently scientists have found that there is a “God gene”, a prewired place in us that makes many of us “sure” there is higher power. There is discussion that maybe the gene is the transmitter. God to gene to us. But what if the gene is God? No middleman? What if that is all there is to it? Right there in us? Maybe some genes are more attune, more developed, swollen perhaps. Maybe some are suppressed or have been overridden by the sex gene or the alcohol one.
It would explain why I feel more at home with the God that is in my head than the one in the church. And it would explain why I feel a compulsion to give something and do something when people suffer. I can’t help it. It’s in my wiring. So, scientifically, it has been proven that this compulsion to help has nothing to do with being a “good person.” It is just fate. I have red hair, brown eyes and a swollen God gene. Lord, help me.