Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Reflections on Newtown - part one

The Slaughter of the Innocents
                20 children - massacred
                                Grisly descriptions fill the airwaves
                Almost obscene in the details.
                A President stands with tears as
                Parents across the nation hug their own children
                                more closely than usual.

The Slaughter of the Innocents
                A Biblical image that we often gloss over.
                It's right there- December 28-
                Right there in the calendar as part of
                                Christmas. But no one wants
                To go there. Not at the Season of Light in the darkness.
                Why be reminded of the darkness:
                                "Weeping and great mourning," says Scripture,
                                "Rachel weeping for her children.

The Slaughter of the Innocents
                We wail and bemoan the state of the world and yet
                                Prepare for another Quentin Tarantino blood-soaked movie,
                We urge people to "Not get political" which means
                Do Nothing
                To slow the slaughter's flow of blood across the nation's landscape.

The Slaughter of the Innocents
                Columbine                          Aurora
                Milwaukee                         Virginia Tech
                Shopping malls                  Factories
                                Sikh Temple and Beauty Spa
                There are no boundaries to slaughter in a culture mired in it.
                Innocents all - children and adults-
                                Bystanders to horrific history.

The Slaughter of the Innocents
                I keep trying to clear the phrase and images from my mind.
                                Black clad gunmen, hiding their pathology
                                behind false strength and bullets.
                I sit listening to Bach or the hopeful seasonal music of
                                John Rutter.
                But Magnificats and Glorias sound hollow as the images of
                                traumatized children remain on the TV.

The Slaughter of the Innocents
                Now I am caught up in the anger of the days. My Christmas world has been shattered. 
                                My peace on earth has been broken. I am caught in the
                Web of violence within by the events- inexplicable, but so deadly common-
                                on the evening news or movie screen.
                I shudder - cringe- at my own response. At my own anger at
                                the powerlessness- the inability to make a difference. The
                hurt- and then the fear that someone- anyone- could do the same right here
                                where I am sitting- at a mall bookstore.
                Newtown is anywhere- and potentially everywhere.

The Slaughter of the Innocents
                I'm getting worn out. I can't imagine what the people of
                                Newtown must be feeling like. They are in need of healing.
                The wounds will go deep and broad, barely touchable
                                By anything available to them - or us- today.
                Untouchable by our words- the language of mere mortals.
                Only the grace of God may be able to bring about the healing.
                                But it is not the easy grace we often try to pass on,
                                The philosophical pablum that reduces God to less than
                Human, rather than greater than human.
                                It is not grace to say that God willed it, or even
                                Allowed it to happen for some unbelievably fearsome reason.
                No! This is a far more powerful grace. Not costly, like Bonhoeffer foresaw,
                                But awful. A grace that inspires awe- even as we cower in
                                Dread, anger, or hopelessness.
                The image comes of Bobby Kennedy on a chilly April night on the streets of Indianapolis
                                Giving us the words as he tried to make sense of
                                Martin Luther King's assassination, but his own brother's as well.
                They were the ancient words of Aeschylus:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart, until,
in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom,
through the awful grace of God.

Written on Saturday, Dec. 15, the day after.

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