I love reading a good book.
Some of my favorite titles are Heart of Darkness (I re-read that every year it seems), Snow Falling on Cedars, Winter in the Blood, The Things They Carried, Slaughterhouse Five, Crime and Punishment, The Good Earth, the Poisonwood Bible and now most recently The Lovely Bones.
I think why I love these novels is that they speak to me about the human drama. Every time I hear a song, watch a movie or get lost in a good story I am struck at some of the lines that come out and speak to the real needs of real people.
The Lovely Bones is one of those books that speaks in volumes, and one of the reasons why I think it is so powerful and so popular. I posted another blog about this book (There’s No Bull**** In My Heaven) back in October, but now I’ve found even more depth in its pages.
On p. 186 of the paperback edition Susie (the main character) is beginning to share the story of her murder and the affect it has on her family and friends and she says,
“Each time I told my story, I lost a bit, the smallest drop of pain. It was that day that I knew I wanted to tell the story of my family. Because horror on Earth is real and it is every day. It is like a flower or like the sun; it cannot be contained.”
Later on she reflects and says,
“No one could have predicted how my loss would change small moments on Earth.”
In the book her death sets off a whole series of life changing moments in her friends’ and family’s lives. The affect of her death is heart wrenching and soul purging. Relationships are cemented, rules are broken and people cope each in their own destructive, beautiful and futile way.
The book itself is a wonderful journey through grief and pain.
What I want to look at though is how Susie sees how her death changed the lives of so many people, and in a lot of ways brought a lot more pain. She sees this and then realizes that her murder was horrible, not just because she was raped and brutally slaughtered, but because of the horrible domino-effect it had on those she cared about. She says that “horror on Earth is real and it is everyday. It is like a flower or like the sun; it cannot be contained.”
Susie speaks to our human predicament in this present darkness. Our lives are not easy. Indeed, they are often filled with horror, tragedy and difficulty. Like the budding of a flower or the rising of the sun, horrible things happen every single day to so many different people.
Yet, her last line worries me.
“It cannot be contained.”
What if it could be contained?
What if it could be reigned in?
What if the horror, the pain and the tragedy were temporary?
In her quote it reveals an interesting theological tidbit. She says two very important words.
On earth things are pretty painful. From petty arguments to the death of a raven we can see that all creation waits and groans (Romans 8:19-22) for the restoration of all things. The recapitulation of God’s glorious creation. All of us wait for the time when there will be no more tears, no more pain and no more horror (Revelation 21:4).
We wait in eager expectation.
We sit on the edge of our seat desiring for that time to come.
No, we act.
Because the way of Jesus is more than knowing that someday our prince will come. The way of Jesus wasn’t about what is happening only in the future. The way of Jesus is about the not yet, but it is also so much about the now. The man with the withered hand didn’t have to wait until tomorrow there was restoration that day. The man born blind didn’t wait until tomorrow he was re-created that day. The disciples waited for three days, but then there was no more waiting to be done the Kingdom was there, it was present, it was given and it was not yet.
We who live in Christ’s Kingdom are called to wait in anticipation of the glorious restoration of our sin-soaked world, but at the same time we are called to small acts of restoration in the here and now by and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
May we speak, may we act and may we think in such ways that the pain and the suffering of humanity, which is so real and is everyday, is understood as it should be.
On my run yesterday I saw a dead raven. I wished I could help it, but it was too late. Right after seeing this a man making a left hand turn lost his tire…sparks flew everywhere and the tire flew out into the intersection. I grabbed the tire and rolled it over to the man, propped up his car and got him connected with a mechanic. When I was walking away to continue my run he said to me, “Thank God there was a Good Samaritan here today…I don’t know what I would’ve done.”
There was, in that moment of fear, anxiety and uncertainty a little shade of the future glory of Christ’s Kingdom. It was nothing that I did, but what the Spirit did through me that brought some form of restoration to that man in that moment.
May we all seek to bring that type of restoration to the horror that is on Earth. May we all seek to show others that it isn’t horror that is like a flower or like the sun, but the hope of Christ. That just as the flower blooms and the sun rises, so shall his Kingdom come and bring with it the mercy and graciousness of a world without pain and sorrow.
Amen. Let it be.