All week long I’ve been trying to write about Boston, attempting to write some words of sense that are born out of a senseless situation.
When sidewalks are awash with blood, an eight year old boy, among others, is dead, and limbs are lying on the ground, there is no sense. All I have are several strings of disparate thought that I humbly offer up here.
I can’t help but have waves of hopelessness and despair, even anxiety. Is this really what the world is like now? How ignorant have I been of those around the world who live with this type of violence every day? There has been no better expression of our collective feelings of despair than this article in The Onion (pardon the language).
I keep asking myself what it looks like to be a person of hope in times like these. As people of faith we’re must, in the words of Pope Francis, “resolve not to be overcome by evil, but to combat evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21).” Is it really as simple as generously loving those around us? I hope so.
Our Thoughts and Prayers…
It seems that in the hours after a national tragedy everyone must begin every public pronouncement with the phrase, “my thoughts and prayers go out too…” . It’s understandable and, I think, even noble that people still turn to prayer in times of crisis and uncertainty.
There’s no doubt that the victims of this act are on our minds and they are endlessly worthy of our prayers. But what about the perpetrators of this heinous act? What about all of those around the world who are being compelled by evil? We never pronounce our intentions to pray for them because, I think, it’s hardest for us to imitate a God who says, “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” Our human hearts are too busy crying out for “justice,” as we understand it. Is grace too good for such monsters? Should it be reserved for those of us whose sins are far less public and outwardly destructive?
If Boston teaches us anything, it’s that the battle between good and evil is anything but over. It’s a battle that won’t be won with new legislation in the halls of Congress. It’s won in prayer, and we need far more people who are set on doing battle in prayer than with force. Chief among sinners writing here…
The Divine Image in Humanity
Just a few weeks ago I read this line in C.S. Lewis’s book, Till We Have Faces:
“There must, whether the gods see it or not, be something great in the mortal soul. For suffering, it seems, is infinite, and our capacity without limit.”
Tuscon, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Boston… how many hearts have been broken? How are our psyches’ shaken? We’ve only begun to know.
Perhaps in our capacity for suffering we shine forth the eternal image of God within us.
He is the God, after all, who was constantly dealt the suffering shame of a wandering bride before laying down in the ultimate suffering of death, even death on the cross.
That’s not to say that he takes glory in our suffering. More that, in our suffering, we understand his divine heart a little more. We become more authentically human, in the sense that the most authentic expression of our humanity is to reflect the divine image.
I have no expectations that this suffering will end this side of heaven. I do, however, wish that it didn’t come crashing into life with such incredible force.
If suffering and pain remind us of anything it’s that we are still alive. In a jaded world, we are still capable of feeling shocked, outraged, angry, disgusted, sympathetic. Perhaps in all of this suffering, the reminder we all need is that it shouldn’t take these instances to make us feel alive. Maybe we all need to wake up a bit, reengage with others in community, feel the pain in our knees as we bow to pray and wear our arms from lifting them in praise. Maybe we all need to live a little bit more so that death doesn’t feel so extreme.
No, there is nothing of sense to write in times like these, but we all need an outlet to process our thoughts. Feel free to share your thoughts of hope, anger, outrage… or whatever else in the comments. I promise, no judgement here.