Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Death of Bin Laden

I have been taking it all in, trying to get in touch with my own ambivalent feelings. I am a "quick processor" in many things, but have found that in events of this magnitude I need to step back a bit and just ponder for a while. A parishioner emailed me yesterday to reflect on his own feelings and ask about mine and I found myself starting to find some clarity. I know that newspaper headlines like "Rot in Hell" certainly don't do it for me. I don't understand 'vengeance' and I can't celebrate the loss of a life, even this one, with laughter.

But neither have I shed a tear. I agree with Ghandi that "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." Even so, I believe in this case justice was served...and I am glad about that. I don't think it really brings the "closure" we are so desperate for in this country, but maybe it does let us turn the page to a new chapter. I hope so. And while things in the short term may get scary again for a while, I do think the world is better off without bin Laden and in the long term, as I heard one of the talking heads say (actually it might have been John Stewart!) - Americans may now be able to focus on the Muslims who yearn for peace and democracy all across a rapidly changing Middle East, rather than on bin Laden as the "face" of Islam. I pray that it will be so. This Friday night, as it turns out, I am taking some parishioners to pray at a mosque in Worcester. May we continue to deepen the bonds of respect and love among Christian, Jew, and Muslim as we go forward.

I came across a prayer this morning that was offered by a pastor about whom I know nothing at all, but her words spoke to me and I admire her for finding them much faster than I possibly could have. Her name is the Rev. Becca Clark, and she offered this prayer in the Vermont House of Representatives on the day of bin Laden's death. A friend of mine posted it on Facebook.
O Life and Hope, Holy One. Today we breathe a sigh. A sigh of relief, perhaps, for the death of a violent and brutal man. A sigh of fear for retaliation that may lurk around the next bend in the road. A sigh of resignation that the work and danger have not passed, only changed. A sigh of hope that we may know peace. 
Peace. We pray for peace.
More than the absence of violence, of terror, of danger, of bloodshed. The presence of justice, kindness, forgiveness, and hope. Peace for our nations. For weapons to be laid down. For men and women to return home from the battle fields. For us to learn the craft of war no more. Peace for our world, for the places where hatred is bred, where oppression and violence and extremism forge killers out of children. Peace that is hope and tenderness and compassion, that is Shalom and well being and goodness. Peace that does not subdue violence, but renders it obsolete.
Peace for the dead, for all who died, civilians and soldiers, Americans and allies and combatants and enemies. Peace for those who died in towers and on planes, in military operations and in bombings and raids and suicide attacks. Peace and rest for those who have died. Peace for loved ones who mourn: for all who have lost a mother, father, son, daughter, sibling, spouse, friend. For those who feel that the death of a man can bring long-awaited justice– peace. For those who feel that adding to the dead cannot bring back the dead– peace. For all who mourn and grieve and seek healing not in headlines and history, but in the slow agony of living– peace.
Peace. Deep Peace. Your Peace.
Peace, Jesus told his disciples, divine peace, holy peace, is not the world’s peace. And peace, the song says, must begin with us, with me. As I take and live each moment in peace, in hope for a better world, in compassion and care for all around me. Peace.
May it begin with me.

1 comment:

  1. I found Pastor Becca's own blog, and share the link here. Ah, the beauty of the internet! http://www.pastorbecca.com/