I googled tentatively, warned by my husband that the photos were graphic. One keystroke in the search bar, “B”, and the whole mess spilled across the screen. I covered the pictures and read the words. It didn’t help. My imagination went right to work.
I am still a bit stunned, so forgive me if I can’t find the words. But already I search for them, mostly because I want to pray but don’t know how. So later, now, while my husband puts the kids to bed, I pull open the computer again, and try to talk to the sky:
Really? Again, Lord, what the… Aren’t you a little sick and tired of giving evil so much power? One person, one hundred people behind this, I don’t know, but limbs flew. Human limbs blasted off, flew. You and I have talked about this before. Can’t you just have a car hit the guy who is about to shoot up an elementary school? Can’t you just stop the rapists, the demi-god dictators, the soldiers who recruit children? Can’t you just… Do Something?
Yeah, I’m angry. But you can take it. I just get tired of hearing the latest tragedy… the latest incident that my housemates can’t tell me about until the kids are out of earshot. And then twenty minutes after I find out, I am holding my own daughter–safe, snuggling, beloved limbs intact–on the couch, reading the kid’s version of Little House on the Prairie, all the while trying not to think about it. But I do. And I tremble as I hold her.
Do I just beg you to please please please never let such horror come close to me and the ones I love? This is what I feel: not me, not here, not my own. Just keep it at arms length, just pretend that I am different, protected, somehow.
But that’s not true. Because I know that they are like me, those who are suffering as I sit here and blog. They are like me, those who are afraid that the loved one won’t make it though the night. They are like me, those who ran a marathon but won’t walk away from the hospital. They are like me, those who won’t sleep tonight because their minds will reply again and again whatever it was they wish they hadn’t seen.
They are like me, so what do I ask you for us all? No more bombings, shootings, child abuse, genocides? This seems futile. It just doesn’t fit with the only world I know. We suffer here, and none if us can keep it away. But you. I know you too. You have done something, you are doing something, and you will do more: but you’re not just a fix-it God.
You are here. Here. It may just be your main attribute. Here. This I know firsthand. I have never suffered alone.
And so tonight, tonight the request part of my prayer is just two words: Be there. Be there in hospitals and hotel rooms. Be there at 2 a.m. and at 4, you who are near to the brokenhearted. Be there at funerals, be there as we all mourn together. Be there… do I even need to ask? Be there. Please. Because we’re all so sad and afraid.