Thursday, April 18, 2013

Inclusive Laments

Like everyone else, I heard the news about the terror at the Boston Marathon almost as it was happening, in real time.  Though I will admit, I did not spend the rest of the day glued to the TV, and I don't have many searing visual images in my mind, I'm still haunted by what happened, lamenting the lives lost, imagining the grief of those who lost limbs or lives of loved ones, not being able to imagine the mind of the one who did this.

I do not live in Boston.  I don't even live on the East Coast, so I'm far away from what happened.  I didn't even think I knew anyone who was there, although later I found out that the son of our former pastor was running that day.  He was one of the elite runners, and had already finished when the bombs went off.  But still.  My feelings are not true grief, not like the grief of those who were really there.

Still, I can't help but lament.  We can't help but lament, can we?  Every time we hear cruel things happen, we can't help but lament at the incomprehensible cruelty possible in God's good world.  Sometimes it's the cancer diagnosis of a good friend.  Sometimes it's terror in Boston.

But the problem is that there are terrible things happening all over the world, in places we don't even know exist.  For example, did you know that on the same day that bombs killed and maimed people in Boston, a US bomb killed thirty people who were celebrating at a wedding in Afghanistan?  We said it was a mistake.

Sometimes we excuse our inability to really lament for tragedies far from home.  "Those are violent places," we say.  But the truth is, the world is a violent place, from Boston to Afghanistan to Waco to Myanmar.  If every human life is valuable and beautiful and a creation of God, the ravages of cancer and the ravages of war and the ravages of tragedy are all worthy to be lamented.

I lived in Japan once, long ago.  It was so long ago that sometimes I never lived there, never saw Mount Fuji  rise in the background, never heard the voices of kindergarten children chattering and never smelled the skewered meat sizzling at the train stations.  It was so long ago, but once in awhile I can still imagine the God-beloved people I knew there, far away, across the world.

Here is the impossible thing:  to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep, across boundaries, across ideologies.  To love the ones that God loves, somehow, to practice more inclusive lamenting.

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