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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I shall be with you

It's not like we have to have something to say about everything horrible that happens. Not everything
means something. It takes time to make meaning, and I suspect the time is as much about forgetting some aspects as it is making sense of horror.

People have written all kinds of things already about Boston, the bombing, the loss of life and limbs and joy. Others have truthfully written that this terrible thing is a daily occurrence in other countries, and that the only thing different about this was that the street was in Boston and not Baghdad or Basra. I hope we would think about his seriously, but I don't think we will.

None of it helps the mom and dad and sister of that little boy, or the family of the young woman who died, or the Chinese woman. To them, for them the day was a portal into another dimension, one that they never imagined having to walk into, never let their wildest fears approach.

For me, it's a prayer time. The prayer is just, "I don't get it. Get us through this without more blood, and without revenge. Help us staunch the flow of violence in ourselves and in the world. Show us that we can't stop violence with more violence. Be with us in this place of mistrust and fear, and teach us not to hate. Let your incarnation, your self-emptying, your death and resurrection do that for us, here and now."

We sift through the ashes, ball-bearings, and bone looking for some trace of meaning, some reason for hope. Instead, our eyes are drawn to those who ran toward the danger to help the wounded. There is light there. And with no clear response to the "Why?" prayer, faith remembers a God who does not need to be called down, but who suffers with us in the debris. Hope and memory hearten us, bestowing the courage to walk toward the pain, joined to One who has promised, "I shall be with you."

Here are a few lines that echo that prayer. Back on the block, as the song says, tomorrow.

Comfort each other for pain soon must end.
A day comes when lion and lamb shall be friends.
The sightless shall see then, the speechless sing songs,
The name of our God is the righter of wrongs,
The righter of wrongs.

A sower is planting in acres unseen
The seeds of the future, the field of God's dream.
Those meadows are humming, though none sees them rise.
The name of the sower is God of surprise,
The God of surprise.

Bethlehem! You think you're so small
That God doesn't notice your children at all?

Manhattan and Boston, the smoke and the flame.
In Gaza and Kabul the cry is the same:
"Has God turned against us, his people reviled?"
The same sign is given: a woman with child,
A woman with child.

Close as tomorrow the sun shall appear.
Freedom is coming, and healing is near.
And I shall be with you in laughter and pain
To stand in the wind, and walk in the reign,
To walk in the reign.

Close as tomorrow...

(© 1989 GIA Publications, additional text © 2001, 2013)