Regina Doman: “The Story’s Loose Ends”

joshua_walking_east

I am a fiction writer, and I take delight in Tom Clancy’s quote about the difference between fiction and real life: “Fiction has to make sense.”

We laugh at this because often real life doesn’t make sense. Accidents happen. Evil strikes the innocent. The bad go unpunished: the “good” are infected with apathy.

How are we to have hope?  My own experience of God has been shaped not only by my Catholic faith, but in my vocation as a writer of fiction. As I craft novels, I strive to bring meaning and significance to pieces of ordinary life, to put acts of violence or hatred in a context where they make sense. I can be clumsy in my efforts, but it’s what every writer intuitively does. They take random actions and create a story of them. I sense that if I am attempting to do that with my flimsy imaginary characters, could it be that God is doing the same with us?

My son Joshua in the picture above loved capes, swords, and battles. He believed, even at four years old, that life was an adventure, and I believed that he would grow up to battle dragons. Neither of us thought his life would end less than a year after the picture above was taken. In the picture, he is walking through a stream in our property, little sword in hand, ready for battle. He was walking east.

To me, this picture symbolizes both his life and his death.  His life ended in such a painful, seemingly meaningless way.  What was the context?  How could God call this a good story?

All I can do is trust that there is a part of the story I’m not seeing yet, and that in the end, it will make sense. So many of us suffer: and it doesn’t make sense. Why was I born safely in America, a country at peace, and not in Africa, a continent wracked by conflict? Why was I born to loving and attentive parents, not hostile or neglectful ones? Why was I born in relative comfort when so many have to make their way in squalor? Why am I healthy when those so close to me are sick?

It doesn’t make sense. Yet we believe that God is just: more just than any of us could ever be, and that He has a plan. He doesn’t promise us safety or health or wealth or even happiness in this life. But He does promise us that if we love Him, if we trust Him, we will find treasure and life and joy and yes, even peace that passes understanding.

Putting myself in His hands day by day is the only thing that makes sense. I don’t understand the mystery of the present moment. The future doesn’t exist. Only by looking at the past can we sometimes see a pattern. But I believe, as a writer and as a Catholic, that if I seek to tie up each loose end at the end of a story, then God must plan to do the same. And when we reach “The End,” there will be not only a cessation of tears, but a deep sense of satisfaction in the readers of the Great Story. Because I have hope that it will make sense, in the End.

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One Response to “Regina Doman: “The Story’s Loose Ends””

  1. Kathleen Techler Says:

    That is a beautiful idea which does give hope.

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