I have been crying a lot lately. Deep down, belly shaking crying and soft rolling tears crying, at prayer, during the Office, and driving down the road. My dreams, too, have been full of water. In one, I am on a bus during a terrible storm, water sheeting down the windows and running down the street, so much water the bus nearly floats. From the bus I board a ship that sails out into the storm. The storm nearly overwhelms the ship. Then I notice the ship is filling with water, sinking deeper and deeper into the water, until we just make it into port. I get off the ship and those there to greet me show no appreciation for my watery plight.
We have become so used to hurting and exploiting one another that we hardly even notice it anymore. I’m as guilty of this kind of ignorance and the silence that makes it possible as anyone. For all my impassioned crusading for justice, too often I paint the oppressed with broad strokes when what we are talking about are actual people, living actual lives. Immigrants are not a general category. They’re a real little boy afraid to go to school because he doesn’t know if his real parents will be home when he returns.
I am frightened and angry about what is happening in our country, but more than anything I feel a keening sorrow that is so much more than personal. It is a sorrow millennia old, and the tears I’m crying are not only, not even primarily, my own. I feel as if the broken heart of God has cracked open in my chest, as if the sword that pierced Mary’s soul now pierces mine, as if the love Jesus knew for his Father now tugs me inexorably forward toward my own cross.
I am afraid when I think of that cross, what all this love for Jesus may mean for me, for us. I find that the closer I grow to God in prayer, the more I love God, the more I love other people, the more I love this shatteringly beautiful world and at the same time the freer I am to lay down my life for the sake of the gospel.
What to do and how to be in all this water and all this silence? How to love, even to the point of death, if it comes to that? These are not ordinary times, and our response cannot be ordinary, either. There are generations of murder, rape, and theft to mourn, so many tears they could drown the world. There is a dark grace in all of this, and the sorrow and tears are shot through with a bit of incandescence. And in the midst of it all, the crocus keep blooming, and I do know a love greater than any I’ve ever known. This life. This painful, beautiful life.
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