Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lacrimosa et risum

"Festival," by Brian Kershisnik

Ah, this world is so broken, and my heart is broken, and I don’t see how God’s heart is not broken, except that He is God and even when His heart is broken, He knows it will not always be broken, because He heals all things and wipes away all tears from off all eyes, personally and one by one, and yes, I believe that. There’s that heartbreakingly lovely passage in Gilead: “Augustine says the Lord loves each of us as an only child, and that has to be true. ‘He will wipe the tears from all faces.’ It takes nothing from the loveliness of the verse to say that is exactly what will be required.” The promise points to the reality of the need. To allow God to come to my face and wipe away tears requires a vulnerability and a humility seldom encountered in adults. But I think that is what it will take, to acknowledge him as Father. And sometimes perhaps our brokenness brings us to that point where we say, “Yes, now, please come and wipe them away. I have tried and tried, but my hands don’t work, and I need your gentle fingers to dry my face.” Perhaps that is the point. Children know they need someone to take away their tears.

I was reading this poem by Rilke called “Christ and the Children” (“And like the flowers that shoot up galore / on early days in spring, / the children flock to him, / while adults rarely mention his name. / For children have been friends with him for long / and they hurry to the gate of his embrace. / A pale one says, ‘You surely are the grace / for which my mother daily lifts her hands.’”) and then I looked up to see my children playing with the neighbor children in a sprinkler—their eyes were all bright and shining and good, and I saw Christ in the children. I saw, too, the other day while I was driving in my car a young girl—maybe ten years old—summer-sunbrowned and riding her bicycle, making wild gestures with her hands and sort of swinging her hair back and forth to make her friend behind her laugh on her bicycle. I wished her future husband could see that youthfulness, that exuberance. He will know her as a lovely young woman, but not as a girl. I feel privileged to know my daughter as a girl.

But here’s the thing, I was thinking the other day of this time a friend of mine called me to tell me that his daughter had been raped. I went over to his house, and he cried into my arms, and said he had a fifty cent solution, he had a fifty cent solution, and he shook in rage and grief, and I laid my hands on his head to give him a blessing. What do you say at such a time? Why do daughters get raped? Why do friends shake in my arms? How does such darkness exist in a world that has shown itself to me so often in so much splendor? How does one offer any real comfort, any real hope when you can’t fix it, can’t take it back, can’t change the world? Well, God pours out love, which is not always the same thing as healing. But it’s something, and it’s real.

My wife is downstairs right now, playing gently on the piano: Pachelbel’s Canon. A song she learned because I love it and she loves me. And I am reminded that one day the air will begin to shimmer and shake and hum with a music that is not of this world. And a light will come from the east, growing in intensity and brightness, causing the air to shake, to undulate and roll, to swell and to sing. Causing the grass to reach and to sing and the trees to shiver with music. And I will feel myself becoming lighter, sorrow and heaviness melting away like snow in spring, will feel the joy I have always known myself capable of, will look around to see others, to find ourselves soaring through the air. To meet the Lord in the clouds, the scripture says. A new song. We will come singing a new song. A song beyond words but created with human voices. And the voices of others, of angels and gods. I will know the words or the non-words, the motions of the mouth and the movement of lungs even though I have never heard it, yet I know I have heard it. I was born from this song, brought forth from this light. And the Lord will wipe away all tears from off all eyes. There will be no more sorrow and no more death. I will know as I am known. I will rise. The earth will become new. All things will be new. All things. All things.

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