Confronted by violence

Audible gasps at what was taking place outside filled the cafe which was occupied by people enjoying a rare Friday off work. Wretched from their conversations by an act of violence, rather a reminder of one from thousands of years ago, horrific and excruciating. I felt it too as I saw the crowd slowly entering my periphery carrying two heavy lumps of wood joined together as an instrument of torture and death. Sat here, fully intending to use this time to reflect on the reason for today, a stark reminder forced itself upon me.

I sat here as a fellow onlooker, not as a participant, feeling a bit like the estranged child. Even in my distance, this very morning I forced my focus on the cross with a bloodied, battered Jesus, feeling like a bystander more than a disciple. Surely those who weren’t heckling must have been deeply disturbed by witnessing such an act, much as those who have seen an act of violence on the street have felt. I wondered if I had a right to grieve today, the right to feel that guilt that Good Friday carries with it. After all, I’m not one walking the street, carrying the cross.

Then I remembered that recent moment when my husband told me about a friend who took his life. We hadn’t spoke in a few years and never were close, but news of his death hit home and made me cry. I was upset for what he had been through, what had driven him to take his life, how that would impact his family and close friends. I felt like a bystander, rocked by the emotion of such a violent act that felt a bit personal. And I can’t say I questioned the rightness of my emotions so why in this case today, where I remember that someone was martyred, suicide with a cause, on the behalf of a messed up humanity, individually and systemically.

It’s right that my satellite soul which will always orbit around my faith, however flawed, weak or unapparent it might be on the outside, should feel the grief over such a loss. It is shocking. It is horrific. It was done, this act of passion, with a heavenly womb full of everlasting hope. Hope that reminds me today on this bleak depressing holiday, while I sip my coffee, that the violence will lose. All the horror and shock and injustice will be rolled away by hope and life.

I can’t imagine what I would feel as those women who gathered at the foot of the cross while Jesus drew that last breath. The devastation of that is something I can’t allow myself to feel because mentally I just couldn’t take it. Thank heaven I exist in the passage of time that I can see the hope more strongly than the despair, though that veil be thick.

Though we be confronted by violence, may we be met with hope. May it brace us for those instances where we are confronted by love when love is painful and makes us feel so vulnerable.

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Confronted by violence