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Against the Wounds

Warning: There’s a heartbreaking, disturbing image in this one.

I was going to write something different today, but I don’t want to anymore.

This has been a terrible week, and the words I was going to toss into the air would have felt empty and worthless in the whirlwind. So instead you get this – scattered thoughts and reflections about our shattered world, penned by cold fingers at the end of a terrible week.


Twitter has changed us.

I think that there was once a time when things happened and then we heard about them. We’d take a while to process the things that happened, emotionally speaking. After a while (maybe a few weeks) we’d look back and reflect on our responses, as individuals and as a community. Twitter has compressed the timeline of that process so completely that it’s practically instantaneous.

Now we grieve with urgency.

On Monday, I watched as news broke and we responded to the news and then responded to each other responding to the news all simultaneously. Before the blood had even been washed from the sidewalks, there were blog posts about it. Not just news stories, or even personal reactions, but reactions to the reactions. Blogs about how we should respond, even in the very first hours.

It’s weird, this sense of urgency.

Twitter has ushered in the reality of the citizen journalist. But when any citizen can be a journalist, every citizen feels a need to be a journalist. To say something profound, immediately. To have a voice in the whirlwind.


Emotion is a river that flows wherever it wills.

Grief, anger, fear, sadness, outrage all flowed freely this week refusing to be guided by “should” and “ought”.

I didn’t weep for Boston. I didn’t weep for Texas. The river of emotion flows where it will, and it didn’t flow through my heart like that.

#PrayForBoston they said, so I prayed.

Then some said, “This thing happens every day all around the world. Why should we be shaken so deeply by Boston, when people die tragically every day around the world?”

But grief refuses to be guided by “ought”.

#PrayForBoston became #PrayForWest. Then some suggested that we should pray for everyone in the whole world affected by tragedy, but there’s no way for the soul to wrap its arms around the entire bleeding planet.

So if your heart weeps for Boston, let it weep. If your heart weeps for West, let it weep. If your heart weeps for Syria, let it weep. If your heart doesn’t weep, let it remain silent.

There is no right or wrong in this. It flows wherever it wills, untamed.


Boston Marathon Bombing

I saw a picture last night of the murderer and his victim, standing next to each other. One carried a backpack full of death. The other smiled for the last time. Neither knew the other was there. Both were far too young for this. It was a picture of fragile innocence in the face of unspeakable evil, about to be snuffed out.

There were a lot of angry words this week. Cries for justice. Cries for vengeance. Cries for blood. The cries of hearts torn by evil and by loss.

And yet, looking at the face of the murderer, I felt no hate or rage. I didn’t know what to feel at all. But I was unsettled, staring into the face of evil. He was just a boy too. How could his heart already be so sick and twisted, that he would take the life of innocents?

All I could say was “Father, forgive them…” Because I know we won’t.


There’s a line in Blue Like Jazz where Don talks about how something is broken in the world, and we’re supposed to hold our palms against the wound.

This week we saw so clearly the brokenness, the throbbing wound. Sitting in my empty house, I felt powerless to hold my palms against it. It’s too scary, overwhelming, confusing, far away.

In the face of senseless tragedy, I realize again and again that the veil between life and death is fragile and easily torn.

Boston is bleeding. Texas is bleeding. The Middle East is bleeding.

And I only have these two palms.


I was almost going to end there, because I have nothing profound to say and I’d rather be silent than dishonest. But then I read these words from Pastor Jonathan at Renovatus, and I thought I’d share them with you because there is hope and he says it better than I can today:

“These days, I have lost all my naive, youthful optimism about the world; I have no childish delusions about the myth of progress. 

And yet I’ve never been so hopeful about the future of the world, because I’ve never been more hopeful about God and His good plans for creation. 

In weeks like this one, optimism will get you nowhere. But hard-edged hope in the Restorer of Creation will get you through the night. 

The world is waiting for the manifestation of the sons & daughters of God. We have to give the world a glimpse in us of the beautiful plans God has for creation, be a marker for what’s to come. 

It’s why we can’t lose heart, even when it’s terribly dark out.”

published April 19, 2013

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