I watched evil and hate in the news tonight. Palestinian and Jewish parents, children scooped up in their arms, fleeing in terror from a war that has no regard or respect for the safety of innocent families. Piles of flowers in Holland, placed there by grieving Dutch families whose innocent, dead loved ones, shot down out of the sky, reside in refrigerated box cars, pawns in a deadly battle between Ukrainians and Russian insurgents. All of these people, these poor, grieving people, once knew ordinary days of goodness and love.
Then I think back to the family parties in my life. To the family members no longer present. To parties we've held this Summer. And I think about how closely we hold each other now because of those very times of suffering that took loved ones away from us. Hugs last longer now. Over and over we whisper "I love you" and look at each other longer and treat each other with great kindness. God's way of healing us allows the darkness of grief to make the sunlight of love ever more vivid and dear.
What were their family parties like, I wonder, seeing those frightened, fleeing Jews and Palestinians, the Dutch families grieving over loved ones dead far away. There must have been food, their favorite dishes, maybe someone singing, surely laughter, hugs, children's games. They never expected grief and war to overtake them as suddenly as a woman is overtaken by labor. I hear their words in foreign languages; the expressions of their faces and bodies need no translation. They are my own. They are me.
No one lives or loves alone.
No one sins alone.
No one grieves alone.
No one is saved alone.
Our smiles, tears, loves, and lives are interconnected, spill over into each others', now and after death.
"God please - give my Palestinian, Jewish, and Dutch brothers and sisters hope again," I pray. "Give them hope for coming days of ordinary peace, goodness, and happiness. Give them joy to balance their affliction. Joy that will taste twice as sweet and twice as precious on that longed-for day of peace because of the bitter grief they are enduring now."