who lit this flame..
What seed, what root did it grow from?
Who’s doing this? Who’s killing us?
Robbing us of life and light, mocking us with the sight of what we might have known? Does our ruin benefit the Earth? Does it help the grass to grow and the sun to shine?
Is this darkness in you too?
Have you passed through this night? – Whit, “The Thin Red Line”
The voice over as Whit walks through the remains of a battlefield, watching defeated, starved soldiers begging for their lives.
I can’t help but find myself asking the same questions as he makes his walk. All I have to do is scan my bookshelves and remember the accounts of the Rwanadan genocide, the first hand stories of life and mostly death on the Bataan Death March; the various retellings of skirmishes and friends dying during the European campaign; and even the confessions and testimonials of torturers and their victims during the apartheid years of S. Africa.
Robbing us of light and light mocking us with the sight of what we might have known.
All the wars, all the ways that we fight and kill each other, not just in the Middle East, either. Here at home. Headlines can tell some of it. But spend any amount of time really getting to know a family, a community and it won’t be long till I am walking the remains of a battlefield, scattered with the tears of broken marriages, slashing words stabbed at one another amongst “friends.” The ways we tear each other apart because something bent in us can’t stand the glory we see in another; blaming them for the thing in us we hate the most; all the betrayals we wear as medals, bleeding, when our part was just as much as those that “betrayed” us; The manipulations we maneuver to steal the heart out of a relationship in the name of “my rights.”
We were a family. How’d it break up and come apart, so that now we’re turned against each other, each standing in the other’s light?
How’d we lose the good that was given us, let it slip away, scattered, careless?
What’s keeping us from reaching out… touching the glory? – Whit
It doesn’t end there, though.
This great evil…isn’t the end of the story. Those same books on my shelves tell the tales of a country in recovery, of fire light of love and sacrifice made over and over in the POW camps on the South Pacific; the men who were once enemies in Germany, now friends, old and smiling; The flowing tears on the face of a man forgiven for the torture and murder of a son by the embracing arms of the mother; I’ve seen marriages reconciled, when the guns are put down and he says all he ever wants is for her heart to be free; the community of friends who silence their poison tongues long enough to hear the crying for love inside themselves, turning to those around them for restoration, for help; The words, “I’m sorry,” not dismissed, but soaking into the hardened heart of the betrayed;
Love. Where does it come from? Who lit this flame in us?
No war can put it out, conquer it. I was a prisoner, you set me free.
The flame was lit by someone outside of myself and when I stop shielding it, he fans the fire that no war can put out, conquer.
In the asking of forgiveness, and the giving of it, too, I no longer stay in my prison. I am set free.
“…real justice is not punishment but restoration, not necessarily to how things used to be, but to how they really should be.” – Marietta Jaeger, on why she forgave the man who kidnapped and killed her daughter.