Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Homeward Bound

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
From The Stolen Child by WB Yeats

The world is weary of weeping and war: nation against nation and even brother against brother. Our news baptizes us in the causalities of multiple wars in multiple lands. From the violent birth of a nation in Iraq to the ongoing genocide of a people in Dafur: death and destruction are the only life many people know. And in some strange irony, we Americans complete the cycle by entertaining ourselves through an endless parade of murder mysteries.

Yeats seems to be right, “the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.” Some would escape to fairylands and beyond, hoping to enjoy some tiny bit of happiness in this evil infested planet.

Pain, suffering, war and death characterize life for many people in this world. We may protest wars and we may voice our opposition to tyrant leaders (either at home or abroad) but that does not change the reality for millions of mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers who will lay down tonight in terror and grief over the unending real pain in this world.

How can we ever really face the magnitude of suffering and evil in this world? Some may choose to ignore it for as long as possible, living a life of hedonistic delight as the world burns around them. Others may deny any ultimate significance to the material world, suggesting it is all an illusion or all subject to destruction anyway. One popular approach is to suggest that everything is some part of divine life: of course, this carries with it the disturbing notion that evil and good are equally divine.

Is it possible things are not the way they are supposed to be? Is it possible the longing we have in our hearts for goodness and truth and beauty are intuitive longings for a world that might have been or might still be?

Today is the beginning of the second great cycle in the Christian year known as Lent-Easter-Pentecost. It is a time of honestly facing the evil in our world but it is also about facing the possibility of becoming humans who know the reality of giving and receiving love.

In the Lenten journey, we face the disturbing truth that the problem of evil in this world is a human problem. When we despair over the tyranny of evil in faraway places, we must not ignore the reality of that evil within. Think of the anger we have felt at times to other people in the workplace, on the highway, or in the community. Someone might say, “But my anger is justified. Did you see what they did to me?” Do not all perpetrators of evil feel justified in their actions?

“Of course, some innocents will die, but this is the only way to maintain peace and order.”

“They deserved to die for what they did to me!”

And on and on the excuses for evil continue. During Lent, we honestly face this propensity toward evil within.

The strange and often misunderstood story of Jesus, suggests that God does not ignore evil but takes the pain and power of it onto Himself. Jesus comes to tell Israel that their God has come to dwell among them in a way they never could have imagined. He will become the suffering servant. He will take the pain and hurt and very real anguish of this evil world onto Himself. In so doing, He will make a way for humans to become truly human: truly beings shaped and fully revealed in the beauty of perfect love.

The Lenten journey is about facing the real hope offering in this action and message of Jesus.

I invite you to take this Lenten journey with me: this means facing and confronting our own personal failings and attitudes of anger and violence and unforgiveness. And yet at the same time, it means looking with hope to Jesus whose life makes that stunning proclamation that God has taken the pain and evil in this world including my life onto Himself, freeing me to become a lover. This amazing good news frees me to embrace the suffering persons around me—even if that means I may suffer in the process.

Blessings on your journey.

No comments: