Saturday, July 02, 2011

Be careful what you wish for...

What is real? You stand inside a thing, taste it, touch it, experience it. You hold to it despite denials of its existence in this world. Was it real? Did it happen? Finally a denial denied. The thing becomes more real than you imagined it could be. Was it real before or now? Or both? What is real?

My whole life I have waited to hear something that I thought would be good, that I thought would make things better.  It was a moment I dreamed of, a thousand different ways, really.  But when it came it did not feel good, did not seem good at all.

An extreme example would be a Holocaust survivor living amongst those who deny the Holocaust.  As wild a thought as that is for those who lived in those countries where humans were treated like trash, it is still easier to believe than the fact that humans can be so evil, so cruel, so heartless toward one another.  That we can be so egregious in our perfidy against our brothers and sisters who live and walk beside us on this earth so that over six million would end up dead in a very, very short period simply because one man declared them to be worthless.  The reality of the Holocaust is unfathomable.  Yet it happened.  We have a generation of mass murderers.  Those who did the killing.  And those who did nothing to stop it...those who looked the other way, who went on with their lives despite the evil being committed all around them, those near and far who knew and yet who pretended that nothing was happening.

You would think that finally having someone admit the horror was real would be a good thing.  Only in hearing that admission, it is as if the horror is more real, more present.  It is not the moment one thought it would be.  

Yes, this thing happened to you.  Yes, we pretended it did not.  But it did.  The touch. The smell.  The fear.  The shame.  The terror.  It is all real.

We humans are good at pretending.  We are good at glossing over the evil we commit against each other.  We are good at rewriting history to soften our sin, to assuage what consciences we might have that burden us.  It is easier to pretend.  In many ways, for both the perpetrator and the victim, it is easier to pretend.

But if you are the one who carries this burden, who has this wound deep within, to have it wrapped in silence deepens the pain, enlarges the wound.  Even if you are also the one pretending.  To stand in the face of silence, it is hard not to doubt, not to think perhaps it was not so.  Perhaps....

I thought hearing the admission of what happened, finally, in a small way from one person, would be this moment of victory for me.  But it was not.  I am weak.  And I am small.  That confirmation was not what I thought it would be.  It made the experience more real, more terrifying, more shameful.  Be careful what you ask for.

What is real?  This thing.  This terrible thing is real.  What is also real is that I am baptized.  I am washed clean in the waters of holy Baptism.  I am forgiven then, today, and always.  Both are real.  I need help remembering that.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

No comments: