Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bitterness unbridled

We only see you in this world of mud
When both your hands are stained with our own blood.
“Dear Lord,” I remember one of the leaders in my church praying after a local high school shooting back in 2006, “we cannot imagine what would make a child do a thing like this...”

...only I could. High school is brutal, and I remember just what it felt like to be rejected by the savage in-crowd... and I was only a little bit nerdy. I can’t imagine what being a little more outcast would have done to my little teenage soul.

I am a part of a generation that grew up with tragedies, I suppose: the Columbine shooting happened at the end of my sophomore year of high school, the Twin Towers fell three weeks into my college career, and the Virginia Tech massacre happened right as I prepared to begin graduate school. And whenever I hear about another story of unbridled bitterness, I can only shudder and think, “There but for the Grace of God go I...”

So when I bumped into an article yesterday about the execution of the DC sniper from seven years ago, back when I had been a rootless college sophomore whose family lived overseas and who was constantly driving to DC to spend time with my cousin, I could not help but be grieved. I remembered the terror in DC on those mornings when I was visiting my cousin; I remembered the frustration of the African American community back home when the man was caught; I remembered the stories of my housemates who would visit the families of people on death row in the ensuing years.

I don’t mean to poke at controversial political issues, but when I read an article like this I can’t help but be grieved for all parties: for the innocent people who were killed, for their families who lost loved ones with no reasons or a chance to say goodbye, for the man’s ex-wives and children who years ago had lost the man who died yesterday, for the man himself who died without having seen his four children in his seven years in prison. The story seems laced with bitterness from start to finish, bitterness that indeed rots the soul but for the forgiveness of Christ.

Come now, Lord Jesus. Come into those high schools. Come into those broken families. Come into those prison cells. Come into our bitter hearts. Clean the bitterness from us, before we rot completely.

God have mercy on the soul of John Allen Muhammad. God have mercy on the souls still grieving. God have mercy on mine.

2 comments:

NC Sue said...

Amen, Em.

The execution of Muhammed was just one more tragedy in a long series. Nothing was healed by it. May God grant healing to all those who were devastated by these deaths.

Marie said...

High school is a war zone these days. It's not a funny "Fast Times" joke anymore, it's full of intimidation and dreariness and hopelessness. No adult I know would tolerate being forced into living 7 or 8 hours a day that way.