Sitting together on the mourning bench

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

John Donne

When tragedy strikes, some of the best characteristics of people come to the surface. People run to help, to bind up wounds, to carry away the victims.

The compassion gene comes to the fore.

When such a response moves people to a wider compassion, then God’s love can flourish in our lives.

DSC01469The image that comes to mind tonight is pacifist Käthe Kollwitz’s sculpture in Berlin – a modern day Pietà, Mary with Jesus in her arms.

Being a pacifist, I abhor and condemn all violence, especially cowardly violence that takes lives without taking any personal risk.

And so, I mourn and condemn the killings and violence at the Boston Marathon.

But I also condemn and mourn those killed in wars and bombings by governments, including the US or US-supported governments.

And so tonight I pray for the dead and the wounded in Boston, in Iraq, in Pakistan, in Israel and Palestine, in El Salvador and Guatemala, in East Timor and Viet Nam, in Hiroshima and Dresden, in Mozote and Auschwitz. And I cry with the families here in Honduras who lose loved ones to the violence – about twenty killed each day.

But I don’t merely mourn and pray for the dead.

I think of how I can commit myself to be an instrument of God’s peace in a violent world.

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The title of this entry comes from recalling a quotation of Nicholas Wolterstorff that I read years ago in Stanley Hauerwas’ Naming the Silences: God, Medicine and the Problem of Suffering:

To comfort me, you have to come close. Come sit beside me on my mourning bench.

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