Even though I deem myself more of a contemplator than a believer, the confluence of religious holidays this weekend has been giving me an opportunity to mull over where I stand on matters that at least for me, point to the existence of a force that it is so much bigger than any of us- or all of us.
Those contemplators who do not believe the universe is entirely random often express the revealed presence of this force in terms of "love," "goodness," "karma," or some combination of all.
As one who sometimes leans toward that philosophy, I note an event that hit the news yesterday.
The winners of Wednesday night's $224.2 million national Powerball jackpot are a group of 13 Missouri state employees, who work for the Department of Social Services Family Support Division/Child Support Enforcement in Florissant, Missouri. They are pictured above.
Although I do not know these individuals personally, I have known others who perform these tasks. I've also known others - such as a school therapist in a rural area of Oregon who works in close professional liaison with these noble workers. Plus, I have a degree in Sociology, and that gives me a bit of extra insight into what they do.
And what exactly do people who work for Department of Social Services Family Support Division/Child Support Enforcement do?
They investigate negligence and cruelty visited upon some of our most vulnerable people- innocent children.
Innocent children scarred by months, if not years, of living around meth use, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and negligence.
Dwellings (I refuse to call them "homes") where the primary cooking is not of healthy meals, but of methamphetamine.
Settings where the adult male and female the child looks to for their very sustenance engage in fisticuffs, hurling of objects, kicking down of doors, plus verbal and physical abuse of the worst kind.
Homes where a drunken or drug-addicted uncle forces the child to kneel down in front of him and bear a most horrid of unconsensual indignities that may scar the child for life.
And so these social service workers come to these homes, are sometimes threatened, often cursed at, and most often unappreciated.
It is another form of underappreciation that so many of these social service workers must face. While spoiled multimillionaires run into end zones and mug for the movies, these workers must manage their lives for a relative pittance of a wage. And, in toomany states, must go begging and pleading before the Legislature for enough funding to do their jobs. Or to even have jobs during the approaching budget cycle.
But as a result of the efforts, undertaken by so many social service workers, so many children from these dwellings will spend this Easter Weekend not breathing in the toxic fumes of cooking meth, but the sweet aromas of Easter Sunday pancakes.
It is not that these social service workers seek major economic gains. They did not enter this work for such reasons. If material aquisitiveness were an overriding priority for them, they would have pursued another profession.
But still, it is nice to be paid. Right or wrong, the height and speed of the eagle's Friday flights is a measure of how much society evaluates those who perform the work for which the Eagle flies. Or doesn't.
I know what some of you may be thinking.
Of course I know that many scoundrels have been major lottery winners. Lottery winnings are not apportioned by a higher force as some sort of automatic certificate of goodness. But that's not my point.
My point here is that when the Powerball lottery balls fell on Wednesday night, something so good and so right and so well-deserved happened.
Specifically, when I hear that 13 people who regularly perform this noble work have won an award that will bring them a substantial measure of material comfort in this life, I reflectively must ponder the possibility that the universe is not random - and in some way, some form, knows what goodness is.