E-Letter 162

Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Devotions | 0 comments

The dark of night lifts slowly this morning, its business unfinished, its mourning so raw, so ragged, that it leaves the usual avian chorus gasping for song. There are no trills, no lighthearted warblings, no joyous descants filling the dawn sky. Instead, the somber, haunting, full-throated cooing of a dusty brown dove accompanies the reluctant opening of the envelope of this day. It is as if all of creation marks the tragic events of yesterday in a moment of silence before saluting the fallen military men and women stationed at Ft. Hood, victims of a fellow soldier whose life as he knew it ended years ago on a battlefield in Iraq. I listen respectfully as the wavenotes of tremulous taps drift heavenward.

Later there will be time for indepth reporting, analysis, de-briefing, finger-pointing, editorializing, but for now, it seems enough to join in spirit the minyan of faithful disciples sitting shivah in the homes of their deceased brothers and sisters. Like Mary and Martha, their throats etched by the razorblade of grief, we can only lift our voices in pain, “Lord, if you had only been here, my brother (sister) would not have died!” (Jn. 11:21, 32) The Old Testament wise man, Qoheleth, is right; there is a time for everything, and now is the time to join the swell of saints, our friends in the faith who travel from their Jerusalems to weep and gnash their teeth at the tombs of these contemporary Lazaruses. For this day, we are all diminished by the deaths of the men and women of Ft. Hood united in life and in death in a brotherhood/sisterhood of service. Centuries ago, the poet and Anglican priest, John Donne, ruefully described this invincible and enduring quality of our common humanity:

For Whom the Bell Tolls

No man is an island,

Entire of itself.

Each is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thine own

Or of thine friend’s were.

Each man’s death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, send not to know

For whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for thee.

Let us bow our heads with all of creation as we bind our prayers to Martha’s confession of faith whispered in despair to the One Who is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” (Jn. 11:21)