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The Baby in the Barn and the Lamb who was Slain

At the tail end of this season of Advent, when the tension between the “already” and the “not yet” is unified in that tiny vulnerable baby crying in a barn in Palestine, the baby who would become the lamb who was slain, people seem to have more emotional space for attention to both the brokenness of the world and the hope hidden in Christ. Just think of any tear-jerker Christmas movie with a heart-touching end. All those tear-jerkers remind me of an experience I had recently in which tears were a costly choice for the criers.

As anyone who has attended the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or watched the livestream online can tell you, it is often a very emotional experience. At the Vancouver National Event, I was bowled over by the wisdom of survivors who chose to share their stories. They could so easily have chosen to isolate themselves from mainstream Canada, which had hurt them so deeply. They could have chosen anger. But instead they chose to expose their stories to rooms full of people who looked much like their abusers, knowing that healing comes from vulnerability and forgiveness. Many survivors said that they had been angry for too long and could no longer carry that burden—that they needed to forgive for their own sakes. They had been broken by the Church, and yet the grace of Jesus shone through them with gentle brilliance.

Their example taught me that while anger has its place in the face of injustice, simply weeping with those who weep has more power than it would seem. When walking alongside people suffering from the failures of our communities to love the marginalized, anger is a frequent temptation. But I must learn to choose the way of grief and brokenness more often. With this in mind, I wrote the following poem.

I know a place where a creek runs underfoot.

Under foot, under concrete, under grass,

It sings to the salty sea

And lets its burdens down,

Just to take them up again.

A mother throwing her head back. In laughter? No.

A new dress burned for carrying the Indian stain.

Shreds of humanity, fed to a doomed puppy underneath the floorboards.

A runaway wrenched from the ice that clamped him in a last sweet embrace.

I have felt the rage of Prometheus’ fire,

That crackles and jumps, sweeps and spits searing sparks skyward, soil-ward, suffering-ward.

For young girls battling for pennies for books, still today.

For sacred signs consumed by man-made Hellfire.

For tongues pricked for rollicking to the only rhythm they knew.

For holy children trapped by sections, subpoints, items, white papers.

For crosses used as weapons, robes as invisibility cloaks.

For beauty despoiled, disintegrated, devastated, deflowered.

For a genocide that never knew its name.

And Prometheus’ fire, divine and dangerous, roars on day-by-day

Chewing at my liver,

Just to begin again tomorrow

In a show of impotent power.

But you.

You have chosen the creek,

Chosen to break against the rocks,

Chosen to split open, to let water rush from stone,

Chosen to go on flowing

To water this land with your grief.

Lifting your hands in triumph as you burst into the ocean:

Free at last, free at last, praise God Almighty we’re free at last!

This time, now, you are that creek.

You too know the fire, know the kamikaze, obliterating power of that flame better than I.

And that it can’t be held for long.

It must burn for a time;

The fire gives life,

Led by lupins.

But not today.

Today you have chosen the creek.

Musi cho

I ni ce


Dank u wel

From all of us.

[Image: Flickr user Hot Grill]

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