Today I Weep
The other day, I was quite moved upon reading Senator Byrd’s address delivered on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. It begins with: “I believe in this beautiful country, but today, I weep for my country.” He closed his address by stating that America’s true power lies not in its will to intimidate but in its ability to inspire. The late Henri Nouwen, in Seeds of Hope, wrote that we do not love issues. We can only love people and, in loving people, we come to know how to deal with the issues.
Presently, we are left with the question: Now that the war has begun, what is the task of those thousands of people who have been working for peace? Hopefully, love of people will tell us what to do, and how to pray.
I have come to know that God is very near in times of suffering and that the kind of nearness in suffering is different from that of good times. Suffering brings about a certain kind of union within oneself and with others. Useless defenses fade away, and real human love, drawn from God’s love, comes alive and is active with new strength and creativity.
Here in the monastery, we find ourselves praying for the troops on both sides, and for their families. We pray that the hearts of all leaders concerned will be softened in order to pursue the good and the true. Even though we deplore the war, we pray that more surrendering will take place so that there will be fewer casualties and less destruction. We pray that prisoners of war will be treated with dignity and that food and supplies will be given to those who need them. At this moment, there is a fierce tension between Lenten grief and the promise of Easter joy. In fact, joy seems far away.
The image of America, as being a nation that inspires, has been lost. We have extinguished a light that once shone for the encouragement and upbuilding of others. We ourselves need to rebuild. Furthermore, such a conversion will not be taking place through our own strength or power.
Upon reflection, we know that resurrection takes place more readily in the context of weakness and brokenness. Hence, we are never abandoned. In the face of the difficult reality that confronts us, we are to keep believing that a new Easter will come, (gradually perhaps,) all the while realizing that it may come in a way we never expected.
Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.