Monday, July 31, 2006

I’ve started several times to try to describe the past few days but the words don’t come – or rather, too many words come – and so I give up and try to sleep instead. It’s been something of a blur – well, not really, more like a flood of incredibly lucid events interspersed with a thousand forgettable things that have to be done. But it is these events, or instances, that keep me awake at night wrapping and rewrapping a rosary around my hand. Trying to forget.

But it is impossible to forget. Like a helicopter ride on Saturday. It was me, a paramedic, the South African pilots, a man that had nearly been beaten to death the day before, and his mother. She was blind in one eye and stared out the window with tears dripping off her chin. I had my IPOD on under the headset. Berber’s Addagio for Strings was playing – over and over – and there is a point in the music where all that is heard is a single violin stretching a note out so perfect and beautiful that it alone could break your heart. And I looked out the window at the beautiful mountains and tried for the hundredth time that day not to cry.

Like tonight when I sat outside with all the men from the family of the driver that was beaten to death – their white robes reflecting the light of the silver crescent moon. The rain showered us with large, gloomy drops as we listened to our director convey condolences for another senseless, inhumane murder that, taken together with the thousands of others, make up this senseless, inhumane catastrophe we’re working in.

Like hearing the stories over the past few days of the rapes, the banditry, the assault, the honor killings, the shootings.

And I wonder sometimes if good is slipping out of the world. Like a glass tipped over on a table with goodness dribbling out onto the floor.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.” His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent, watching in secret for his victims. He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. He says to himself, “God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees.” Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out. The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more. Psalm 10

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke

“If this is true, then why do good men and good women do nothing?
As I consider this question, I find three deep sources of poverty that conspire to keep me and my good neighbors on the sidelines in the great struggle against evil: a poverty of compassion, a poverty of purpose, and a poverty of hope…

…In the face of overwhelming evil and injustice, we often feel powerless. And that powerlessness paralyzes us and steals our hope. When the problems are so big and so bad, can we really make a difference anyway?...We are paralyzed in a poverty of hope because, first, we underestimate the value of what God has given us to transform lives. Second, we underestimate the value of a single life. And third, we underestimate God’s determination to rescue us from a trivial existence if we will just free up our hands and our hearts from unworthy distractions and apply them to matters that make a difference in someone else’s life.” G. Haugen, Terrify No More

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD, be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Ps. 27: 13-14