Last night I stumbled across this interview with Gabby Giffords. Four years after being shot in the head, Giffords has lost most of the sight in her right eye. She has limited use of her right arm, and leg. She has Aphasia. What’s both hopeful and inspiring, is that she sees that she’s continuing to getting better.
During the interview, CBS reporter Lee Cowan asks her: “As you recover, are you trying to get back the old Gabby or trying to find the new Gabby?” She doesn’t hesitate. “The new one. Better. Stronger. Tougher.” Followed by a grin. An inspiring story about a woman who isn’t looking back on what might have been, but looking forward and living into what is. Giffords husband, Mark Kelly, says at the end of the interview,
“You know, things happen to you in life, and there’s some things you can do something about, and there’s other things you can’t. You just have to move ahead.”
“Move ahead” Giffords says, echoing her husband. Cowan adds, “You just have to keep moving.” “Moving, moving, moving. Yeah.” says Giffords. There’s a lot of wisdom there. Wisdom that’s applicable to different kinds of trauma.
After being diagnosed with an incurable cancer, Christian Wiman didn’t go looking for the faith he had as child. Instead, he found comfort in thinking of Christ as contingency.
“All of human life is uncertain. I suppose to think of God in these terms might seem for some people deeply troubling (not to mention heretical), but I find it a comfort….If Christianity is going to mean anything at all for us now, then the humanity of God cannot be a half measure. He can’t float above the chaos of pain and particles in which we’re mired, and we can’t think of him gliding among our ancestors like some shiny superhero….No, God is given over to matter, the ultimate Uncertainty Principle. There’s no release from reality, no “outside” or “beyond” from which some transforming touch might come. But what a relief it can be to befriend contingency, to meet God right here in the havoc of chance, to feel enduring love like a stroke of pure luck.” ~ My Bright Abyss, pp18-19.
The idea of contingency it seems is important–for Wiman–because it helps bring to life the sense that “Christ’s life is right now.” (p.19). Our lives are always changing. One event links to another, which changes the next, and so forth. A God who’s actively participating in our lives is in this sense shifting with us, as thing change. This God of mercy looks ahead, and not back. This God tries to rally us toward a life where like Gabby Giffords, we’re better, tougher, stronger, and brimming with love (hence her grin).