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Life Sucks!

Did the title catch you off guard? Today’s blog was inspired by the song, “Life Sucks, Then you Die,” which is performed by a group called “The Fools.” I feel like there is a joke in there waiting to be spoken, … I will refrain (this time).


Why am I mentioning this song? Because it is an affirmation that I not only hear fairly often, but it is also one that I used to declare! Can you believe that?


A Tale of Woe

Let me share a story with you. [Trigger warning: violence, abuse, and trauma]

People often ask me why I enjoy watching horror films, why do they not frighten me. Two reasons. One, I no longer believe in evil entities or demons. And the other reason horror films do not affect me as they do many other people, is because many of my life experiences were real life horrors.


I have no need for imaginary demons, ghouls, and monsters, having grown up in a violent, abusive, trauma inducing environment with emotionally ignorant relatives, save a few rare exceptions. My first near death by stray bullet was when I was five years old. The first time I was the intended target of a bullet I was about eighteen. It wasn’t until November of 2023 when I was in the Everytown Gun Survivor Fellowship onboarding process that I realized I have been the “victim” of gun violence over 30 times in my 57 years of life. Who needs demons, devils, and monsters?


Growing up in a superficially Christian family, I found a more conservative fundamentalist Christianity when I found people who cared about me (or so I thought). They cared about the me they thought I was or the me that I presented to the world. This was when I realized I needed to conform to an ideal Christian, .i.e., a straight, anti-gay, bible toting, scripture quoting, damnation warning, church going Christian servant. Who needs demons, devils, and monsters?


"The Appointment in Samarra" **

Even when I left Pittsburgh, the trauma and pain followed me to Richmond, VA. I moved to Richmond because the person I thought I was going to marry one day had wanted to live there since he was eight years old. After giving me an ultimatum that either I move with him or we were breaking up because he was moving whether I did or not, we moved in 2000. The grief related to moving was centered around leaving my father. I had been his primary caregiver since my early teens when his experience of Lou Gehrig’s Disease worsened. He lived with that disease for many years beyond what the medical professionals prognosed. He died in October 2002 and I was broken!

Now I could go on about how quickly the relationship between James and I not only disintegrated but how it did so violently, painfully, and in the midst of a former student of mine from Pittsburgh travelled to Richmond as a stowaway under a greyhound bus. His intention, due to a schizophrenic break, was to kill me so he would have enough power to put God, Jesus, and Satan in a small box giving him rule of the creation! Who needs demons, devils, and monsters?


The Sun will Come out Tomorrow

The reason I share that snapshot of my life with you is to illustrate the idea that there certainly may be experiences in life that suck, per se. We do not need to be all unicorns, rainbows, glitter, and gumdrops about life. We shouldn’t be in fact. That is not an authentic response to trauma, pain, or grief. We are not meant to suppress our emotions like Mr. Spock and the other Vulcans. One of the great things about this spiritual path we are on and the practices available to us and the community we are a part of, is that we have a way to be present with and to the pains while also doing what we need to do to heal. (Note: Healing is an on-going process and not a one and you’re done cure all).


You most likely are familiar with this proverb, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”


Let’s remix it. “If you give a person a fish, when they are hungry, not only are you feeding them for a day, but you are giving them the energy and nourishment which makes teaching them far more successful. They cannot sufficiently learn when hungry or when worrying about the meal for the next day! Feed the person’s body and feed their mind and feed their spirit and you feed them for a lifetime!”

Temet Nosce

As the Oracle pointed out to Neo in the first Matrix film, when she pointed to the plaque over the doorway, Temet Nosce,” know thyself… and in that let us also connect to Luke 4:23 where we read, “Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to Me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’” We cannot heal what we cannot recognize needs healing. Do we know ourselves well enough, deeply enough to know what is calling for healing? With all of the “suckiness” of my life, how did I arrive at this place I am today where I can actually say I feel more (unconditional) joy than I have ever felt? How is it that I can feel great grief and at the same time feel profound wonder and happiness? I spent time looking at my life, all of it, and identifying the parts where I was engaging in unhealthy and ineffective stewardship. Where could I discern and differentiate between the things I could change and those things that I could not. And more importantly, how could I change myself even in the midst of those things that I could not change?

“We cannot live a choiceless life.  Every day, every moment, every second, there is choice.  If it were not so we would not be individuals.” ~The Science of Mind (1938):

(p. 143.3)


What will you choose to think, speak, feel, and do today that will enrich not only your individual life but the collective as well? Can the individual impact the whole of society in such a way through the choices we make?

Think about the choices these four young men made and how their choices impacted the country.


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead



Rev. Ray




** If you are not familiar with the story The Appointment in Samarra, here is it:


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