Afternoon Meditation

I fell asleep to CNN and dreamt of gunshots. This afternoon I read this on Andrew Sullivan’s blog.

Imagine that this kind of massacre happened every day. Imagine a police force that was far too small to even respond to most of them. Imagine this occurring repeatedly for years until the perpetrators and their accomplices became the de facto power-brokers throughout the land. Imagine the shootings also being accompanied by the brutal torture of victims. Imagine families never having finality on whether their own siblings or parents or children have been murdered or not. This is Iraq today. . . .

I know it’s not human nature. I know it’s not how our brains are wired. I know that feeling tragedy even within our borders is sometimes as much than our hearts can handle. But what if we could put off the natural (wo)man — and see Lebanon next to Virginia; Darfur down the road from the Trade Center; Iraq across town from Columbine; the Samaritans as neighbors?

Such empathy doesn’t feel humanly possible. Really, who can hold such awareness and still plod on, cheerfully at that? Somehow God does. Right? God weeps and laughs and loves and sees and believes. Isn’t that what we are taught; isn’t that, too, what we have to believe to make sense of it all?

I’m humbled by the mystery of God.
(And wish I could pray people’s pain away.)


  1. That thought is both beautiful and horrible. I can’t fathom seeing a world of evil, trauma, and pain, yet God does it and, as you said, still finds joy. Beautiful post. Something I will definitely spend time thinking about.

  2. thank you, deborah. i often find myself thinking this very thing. wondering at how god can bear knowing the world’s evil and still hope. but perhaps it is because in addition to having a complete knowledge of the world’s evil, he also has a perfect knowledge of its good.

  3. “but perhaps it is because in addition to having a complete knowledge of the world’s evil, he also has a perfect knowledge of its good.”

    I like that, amelia. When I hear about all the problems with today’s youth, I reflect on the teens I’ve been surrounded with for the last ten years — who make me so so hopeful for our country’s future . . .

  4. Beautiful thoughts, Deborah. I have to admit that opening myself to the pain and sorrow occuring in the world seems overwhelming and terrifying, and I end up numb.

    I read this article about a week ago, and it returned to mind with all of these events. It’s a bit long, but I think it’s well worth the read. The author, a Harvard professor, puts forth evidence that violence is actually on the decline. It leaves me with some hope.

  5. Thanks for this, Deborah. Sometimes if I let myself dwell on the horrors of the world – the torture, the senseless killings, the billions of animals suffering – I become incapacitated by the grief. I don’t know how God bears it.

    I once heard that a parent can only be as happy as his/her least happy child. Is God really ever happy, I wonder?

  6. i don’t buy that statement about parents’ happiness, caroline. i look at my parents and they’re much happier than my least happy sibling. they’re very concerned about that particular child and i know they experience worry and pain as a result, but they’re still very happy. certainly happier than he is. and i think that happiness arises out of confidence and trust and faith. just as i think god’s happiness arises out of confidence and trust and faith.

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