What is normal? In a statement about the contigencies of human life in his lecture "Learning in a Time of War," C. S. Lewis noted how World War II did not change everything. Rather, the war "simply aggravated the permanent human situation so that it could no longer be ignored." "Human life," Lewis wrote, "is always lived on the edge of the precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself...we are mistaken when we compare war with 'normal life.' Life has never been normal."
I found this quote in the book The Republic of Grace: Augustinian Thoughts for Dark Times by Charles Matthews of the University of Virginia. The book is a meditation on Augustine's thought in light of current political and cultural trends. The quote is a reminder about how we can easily get sucked into thinking how much things "change" (a word in constant usage since 9/11) when, in fact, many things have not changed: as Lewis states, we live our lives, whether we want to admit it or not, on the edge of the precipice all the time. We simply don't want to recognize it. War and terror only bring this point into acute awareness.
The gospel, on the other hand, as Matthews and Lewis go on to state, reveals our true condition and provides the courage for facing our "willed blindness," giving us hope for the living of these days. Fear does not have to dominate our response to the challenges that will inevitably come our way. Hope can have the last word.