Ordinary Grief Thoughts from Shusaku Endo's Silence

Silence, Liturgy of Life Reading Group. Grief and the Ordinary

 

Like me you probably woke up this week to the news that 50 young people had been murdered. In my divided mind I grieved while shamefully breathing a sigh of relief, at least it wasn’t my family, at least it wasn’t in my town, at least it was at night.  And then I rattled my brain thinking of useless ways to preserve the lives of those I love, as if my arms were big enough to shelter even one of them from the violence of the world.

 

Like me your may have looked into the wide eyes of a little child and done your best to explain,

 

“A man chose the path of darkness and he hurt a lot of people,” and known that it wasn’t enough.

 

Like me you may have been met with a puzzled face and a request for oatmeal yet shuddered knowing that the hard questions will come.

 

The ordinariness of it all drives the pain deeper. I can’t fly to Orlando and hold the hand of a grieving mother (what would she want with my hand anyhow?), I can’t even cross the border to Boystown and rescue little girls from prostitution, the Syrian refugee may as well be on another planet. Instead I bake blueberry muffins and fold laundry and go out for frozen yogurt. Life continues one step in front of the other, one day after the next.

 

In our reading group we are beginning Silence by Shusaku Endo, a story about the persecution of Christians in Japan. In the first chapters we find ourselves caught up in the life of a missionary priest wrestling with the faith to which he has devoted his life as it confronts the silence of God in the face of the persecution of Japanese Christians.

 

Silence, Liturgy of Life Reading Group. Grief and the Ordinary

 

And I am right there with him, looking at Orlando, looking at Syria, staring across the border wall, shaking my fists, longing for God to intervene.  And I don’t have an answer except that I am too small. Too small to demand that God intercede with a miracle and rescue us from the consequences of the free will that He has given us.  Too small even to know what will amount to good or bad at the end of an age.  And so the ordinary stretches on, the violence continues and I tremble and I pray.

 

 

Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.
 The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
 All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
 All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
 What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

Ecclesiastes chapter 1 versus 4-11

This post is part of our Reading Group series. Right are reading Silence by Shusaku Endo. We would love for you to join us.

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