It’s no accident, this constant ringing in my head each time another unplanned attack takes place on home turf.
We have a long-practiced habit here in the USA. Instead of focusing on our personal problems, we focus intently on those of others. That includes leaders and residents of the USA as well as those of other countries.
Whether we like it or not, our bluff is being called every day and night. Instead of learning to live together as human beings, we’ve majored on becoming a country divided against itself. Worse, we don’t seem ready to examine ourselves as part of the problem.
Back in 2001, I spoke at a seminary-wide gathering to consider the still-fresh bombing of the twin towers in NYC. The only thing I could do with honesty was speak about myself, acknowledging my own lack of readiness to die in an instant.
Here’s what I said then and am saying again today in light of home-grown terror that’s tearing us apart.
It’s difficult to focus.
Voices and images
clamor for my attention,
my analysis of what is beyond all reason.
I force myself to stay close to the bone,
close to home, close to my Christian roots.
Death is in the room.
Not a new presence,
not even unexpected.
It, too, clamors for my attention,
masquerading in terrible new configurations.
I don’t want to die,
especially if I must suffer in my death.
From the throne of his cross,
the king of grief cries out….
‘Is it nothing to you, all ye who pass by?’
There is no redemption
apart from suffering and death.
I want to be redeemed.
I do not want to die, or to suffer.
I am not a very likely candidate for redemption.
Death is relentlessly in this room.
Unfinished family business is in this room.
Violent behaviors and attitudes
passed down from father to daughter;
Habits of not telling the truth,
passed down from mother to daughter;
Withholding of love and affection,
Relentless inspection and fault-finding,
Love wanting expression but finding no voice,
Truth wanting expression but finding no listening ear.
Unfinished family business is in the room with death–
A gnawing ache more than my body can bear.
I like to think I’m ready to die.
But I am not.
Nor will I ever be.
Not today, not tomorrow,
Not in a thousand tomorrows.
If I say I am ready to die,
I deceive myself,
and the truth is not in me.
There’s always more work to be done–
Unfinished family business
Unfinished seminary business
Unfinished church and community business
Unfinished personal business
Christ died to relieve me
of the awful, paralyzing expectation
that one of these days
I will finally be ready to die.
Christ finished his work so that
I could leave mine unfinished
without even a moment’s notice.
The Heidelberg Catechism says it all–
“What is your only comfort in life and death?
“My only comfort, in life and in death, is that I belong–body and soul, in life and in death–not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ….”
These days I’m praying for small ways to make lifegiving connections with those I love and those I too often love to hate.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 July 2022
News photo found at http://www.nbcnews.com