Nothing makes such horrible loss any less horrible.
And so, I’ve found myself struggling with how to put it in context for my kids.
Not too long ago, a pastor acquaintance at an urban church posted this link to a proposed cease-fire in Burma which would end 60 years of conflict. To North Americans, this is irrelevant. Just another foreign turf war, and after all, there are so many. But for that pastor and his congregation, this was deeply emotional news. Eighty percent of his congregation are refugees, the majority of them Burmese. They have seen their neighbors and loved ones shot. They have lost, and lost, and lost. When asked if they would like to send their children to summer camp, their response was, “Will I ever see my children again?” Because to them, the word “camp” means refugee camp. It means permanent dislocation.
They are people of war and grief and loss. And they are not farther from God and goodness than we are.
But where we live, it’s easy to mistake the relative peace in our lives for relative goodness in ourselves and those around us. We tell ourselves we’re the ones who go out to solve the rest of the world’s problems, because, look at our peace and prosperity. It shocks us when our sense of goodness and order is violated by the brute facts of human nature: This is not a good world.
Nothing makes such horrible loss any less horrible. Nothing.
Yesterday, I woke up to the sound of a crying, vomiting child. Tiger Lily’s mysterious food allergies had caught up to her again. I felt despair, failure. In years of this, we haven’t been able to nail down what precisely triggers it. And lately, she’s looking anemic. I’m going to have to take her in for bloodwork.
In spite of that, I got up and dressed to the sound of singing. At least three parts, with a strong, clear young man’s bass line. It Is Well. They’d found the hymnal with the good arrangement in the right key, and they were practicing for this Sunday’s upcoming concert at the little church nearby. The sound sent shivers through me. Even Miss Sicko was warbling away on an improvised high tenor, before retreating to the couch to moan over her twisted-up tummy some more.
They told me the welder called while I was still in my room. I should go pick up the coal boiler part. Problem was, the welder was away at a friend’s funeral yesterday. And, sick children and all, I was supposed to cart off to the city for lessons, groceries, and faithfully meeting my overworked, overtired man. Lately, when things haven’t gone well, to tell the truth, there’s been a fair bit of barking back and forth around here. I felt wound up inside, dreading another round. I felt cut off from my primary source of support and comfort.
I sat down to do my emails, put my head in my hands and cried. Continue reading