Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thoughts of Three Men

Yesterday I sat mesmerized with the student body and faculty of Kents Hill School as actress Susan Stein brought the complex Etty Hillesum to life.  “Etty’s” writings, diaries and letters to family and friends, are receiving increasing public attention.  This very real young women records her inner struggles and daily challenges navigating the Nazi occupation of Holland.  She is no stereotypical saint.  Depressed, sexually prolific, guilt-ridden by her work for the Jewish Council, work that allows her to keep her own German/Russian Jewish family off the deportation lists, Etty manages, with great effort, to hold wide open her perspective on the tumble of humanity around her.

As I walked back to the office, the character in Etty’s reflection I found myself mulling was a young boy, nameless, who hid when it was his time to be put on the transport train.  When one refused, or didn’t show up, many were added, an incentive for the Jewish community to cooperate with the process. Virtual fingers wag at this very young man, failing to go along with smooth and certain march toward annihilation.  Who is he to speed the death of so many of his neighbors?  What Etty glaringly and intentionally does not say is, of course, the point.  What power does he have?  What power do they have?  Who’s really responsible for this horrible assembly line deconstructing a people?

Inescapably, my contemplative context is the death of Osama Bin Laden, another engine of death and destruction, now taken down with members of his own household who he put at risk. I wonder where and when he made the critical choices that turned such obvious talent and ability into tools of hate, instead of the good he could have done.

And wrapped around my whole thought process is the Easter season we are in. Could anyone really expect that young Dutch Jew from the 1940s to go as grace-fully to his death?  Should we expect him to do what Jesus did or can we grow in our knowing that Jesus’ death puts God in a new relationship with him, and all those others throughout history who were not themselves God, just human beings caught in horrible situations.  One of my favorite resurrection images is of all the human beings that ever lived being caught up in the act of God’s life-remaking leap from the grave.  Ripped into redemption, it would be hard to resist the flow of the Spirit, to not be overcome by God’s desire to sweep us along in love’s flow.  Hard, but not impossible as long as we are the freely created imago dei, not manufactured clay pots.

There’s been a hubbub in Christian circles recently about the notion that God might love everyone too much to ultimately constrain any to hell’s eternity.  Personally, I’m glad the scripture tells us to leave those things up to God. What I do know is that the wounds we carry into God’s presence are healed there.  Not as though they had never happened, but as though it matters that they did. Healing can be a painful process.  Healing requires the willing cooperation of the damaged person with the healer.   May we be open to God’s grace and power so that, in our lives, they move the world toward healing. 

1 comment:

  1. Love your posts Karen. With such deep need for healing to bring us into wholeness, I pray we each can at least start at the point saying we are broken, then begin the very hard work of naming that dark place with in us. Then begin the journey!
    Thinking of you all often!
    Blessings, Vickie