Note: This is the first of two posts having to do with the same picture but different reflections.

Let us tell tales…

We need to embrace tragedy as a real part of our lives.

“Western civilization is a civilization determined to outlaw tragedy.” (paraphrase of a quote from David Mamet)

These were lines I heard a few days ago in an interview on NPR with Ben Kingsley about his new movie, “Operation Finale” about the arrest of Adolf Eichmann. Earlier in the morning I had read Job 6 and Psalm 56 in my morning readings and there was an echo of those in what I heard from Kingsley.

Psalm 56 is a lament about enemies that have surrounded the writer and the fear, grief, and anger that is deeply felt. Job 6 is also crying out as Job laments what has taken place. In both readings there is a deep honesty about the pain and struggles of life. There’s no sugar coating it or trying to turn it into something other than what it is. Tragedy, heartbreak, grief, anger, fear, sadness.

But we so often want to move beyond these. I remember being taught how to give a Christian testimony several years ago and the last part to speak of was essentially how I had overcome whatever trials I had faced. “End with the victory.” Where was the triumph and the victory in the story? But what if that triumph or victory was not apparent or hadn’t come or what if it might never come?

There are times we need to tell the tales of tragedy and loss in life. We need to honor the pain and struggles of life and not feel we need to move to “Your Best Life Now” or to some kind of a triumphalism. One of my most significant areas of growth has been in a willingness to enter the darkness and dwell with it, be honest with it, and feel how it has shaped me and how I can life in and through that struggle.

The interview with Kingsley ended with him reading a poem given to him by Elie Wiesel…

Let us tell tales
All the rest can wait
All the rest must wait
Let us tell tales
That is our primary obligation
Commentaries will have to come later
lest they replace or becloud
what they mean to reveal
Let us tell tales
so as to remember how vulnerable man is
when faced with overwhelming evil
Let us tell tales
so as not to allow the executioner
to have the last word
the last word belongs to the victim
it is up to the witness to capture it
shape it
transmit it
– Elie Wiesel

I wrote this post a few days ago and was just trying to find a picture that connected with what was stirring. It came as I was on a walk with my family the other night. I was struck by how the clouds in the picture seem very connected to one another, yet one is dark and the other light. The next post ties in more with the light, but it too holds the darkness. Just as the darkness holds the light. In the poem by Wiesel, the light is not trying to explain away what happened to the victim, but instead the light coming as the witness captures, shapes, and transmits the story. The light shines as the story of the struggle in the darkness is revealed.


Categories: Faith, GriefTags: , , , , ,

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