Tag Archiv: suffering

Love and the abyss

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We are broken, all of us. If we do not weep this night, we have wept another night. Some tears we taste. Others carve unseen a myriad of hidden rivers, our insides quietly rearranged without our having any choice about the holes, their shape, their size.

This is what makes us so nervous about loving each other. We’re not that put together ourselves. Touching broken people reminds us about the rivers.

On the good days, we’re Swiss cheese in clothes talking cheddar. Other days (against our wishes) we go topless covered only by post it notes with arrows pointing to the holes. In a world of hurting people, our own holes ache to be filled but the when and how are confusing.

Suffering come with complicated formulas. It’s okay to  be suffering only if the diameter of my pain exceeds my neighbor’s. Measurements in my favor spell relief. But carrying rulers to relegate sorrows hurts everybody.

When my neighbor’s pain exceeds my own, it stops me short. What do I even have to offer them?

How do I love into the abyss?

My neighbor’s apartment is on fire. (This is a metaphor.) I am afraid to look at the flames. They bother me. Keep me up at night. I don’t need reminding. My eyes still burn from the smoke of my own recent fire. The power is out. There is one glass of water half full on my counter. The fire department is not here. They are supposed to be here. No one knows if they’re coming. Maybe my neighbor told them not to. What if she wants her place to burn?

Share your water, love whispers.

That much water cannot stop a fire. It’s not enough even to quench her thirst, I say.

Love waits for me to see.

It isn’t about rescue. We aren’t saviours. And yet by simple things have each of us saved. The 1/4 cups of water, half the kingdoms of our fellow pilgrims offered freely where they could not possibly make the difference between life and death. And yet they have.

When all is dark, it is in the arms of these moments that we are held. There is no promise for tomorrow to grab hold of (except by wings of faith notoriously difficult to strap on properly enough to stay in place). But there are moments of brokenness into which we can declare each other beloved.

The woman who washed God’s feet with her tears and dried them with her hair didn’t fix anything. The feet were going to be dirty and smelly the next day. She washed them anyway.Tomorrow’s addictions and confusions will haunt unheeding of our sacrifice. But we offer the treasure of our love and into the ground a stake is struck.

I believe, we say to each other, you will be well. Whether or not I live to see your wellness, my love is not wasted on you. I see here, now, the promise of your wholeness.

We are ill suited to save each other but to love like this, into the abyss of dusty roads and canyons, perhaps this is what we were made to do.

 

Again and again, hope

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I find mercy in the rhythms of everyday life. My heart is heavy with news of a Dutch priest and psychotherapist, who chose to stay in danger and solidarity with the people of Syria whom he has been serving for decades, killed three days short of his 76th birthday. That was ten days ago. This week, a bombing at a Catholic school in Damascus, Syria, killed a nine year old and injured 45. My heart worries and aches for the people of Ukraine. Rwanda is observing remembrance, of the awful genocide twenty years ago, and remarkable steps toward healing and reconciliation since. Holy week marches on.

 

Girl two has become fascinated with St. Rose of Lima. She knows little about her, the name, “Rose,” is the focus of adoration.

“What’s Lima?” she wanted to know.

I told her it was a city in Peru, the same place a close friend of ours is from.

Girl two’s eyes lit up. “Does that mean,” she said breathless, “that St. Rose had brown skin too?”

“I think it does. Does that make you happy?” I ask.

“Yes,” said Girl two. “Brown skin is so beautiful. And it sparkles. Especially in the sun. You have to see it in the sun. I love the sparkles so much.”

Fear despises difference. Love sees the sparkles.

 

Spring has sprung the coils in the children’s brains. Boy two has been on a rampage of neglected duties. A few days ago he came to me with great sincerity and measured tone.

“I have a question,” he said. “I have brushed the horse and fed the chickens. I’ve collected the eggs and put away my school things. I’ve emptied the ash and practiced my piano. Is there anything else I need to do, or I have I done enough to be iddal now.” (think “little,” with no “l”)

I blink while my brain works to solve the puzzle of  “iddal.”

“Is it possible that you read the word, ‘I. D. L. E.’ in a book and you are trying to pronounce it?” I ask. “Because  you say the word with a long I. Idle.”

“Iddal. Idle. Whatever.  So have I done to be idle now?”

 

Mother Teresa, who surely saw more than the average share of the world’s pain, said that “love begins at home.” We are all of us insufficient to alleviate the needs of so vast a world. It is a crisis of immensity with a place to start. The radical promise of Easter.

In barren fields, things unexpected grow. The world disintegrates and love is made new again. Hope, peace, joy, rise rediscovered, and renewed.

 

I will be taking a few days off from the blog, back on Tuesday, next week. In eager expectation and gratitude, may we walk toward the hope that is Easter. And may we be iddal long enough to hear the ballads of miracle and mystery that bid us also to rise up.