Monday, January 10, 2005

When life falls apart

If we were to lose that something or someone that means the most to us, then in a way our life falls apart, our world collapses within and a great part of us die inside.

Ann Weems is one such person. She is a wounded, modern poet. She lost her son 14 years ago in a terrible accident. She continues to weep, she says. And as a consequence she assembled a folio of poems she calls "Psalms of Lament."

In one of them she begins by asking:

"How long will you watch, O God,as your people live huddled in death?
The whole world is dressed in tears,
and I have joined the procession of the bereaved who walk daily in the death places.

We drown in the sea.
We bleed on the battlefield.
We lie stricken on sickbeds.
We are judged in the courtrooms.
We are victims of crime.
We are homeless and hungry.
Is this not enough?

We are tormented by mental illness.
We are abandoned by loved ones.
We wait in unemployment lines.
We grow up on the streets.
We live with disabilities.
We are injured in accidents.
We are plagued by family problems.
We fight drug and alcohol abuse.
Have you not heard enough, O God?

We sit in police stations.
We watch our loved ones endure pain.
We are falsely accused.
We encounter prejudice and hate.
We are humiliated and abused.
We contend with unbearable stress and anxiety.
We weep by the grave.
We are your people, O Creator God!

We are the work of your hands.
Is there no more grace for your troubled ones?
Will we continue our unholy procession around the pit of living death?

There is no sun, no moon, no star.
We cannot see our way.
Have pity on your world, O God,
Have pity on your weeping world!. . .

Have pity on your weeping world, O God,
Have pity on your weeping world!"

This plea from the poet speaks for all of us. It speaks for me.
I am reminded of Chinhua Achebe's book where he takes the title for his novel from a line in a classic Western modernist poem "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats:

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world"

So I ask myself:"When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do?"

I ask again:"When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do?"

When planes pierce strong towers, when flames crown our fortress, when cities shake and people plunge, when blind bombs blast innocent lives to pieces ,when strong waves wipe out cities and kill thousands leaving a horrible trail of destruction,what are we to do?

We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and shake our pillowed head and think, "My, what a dream." But we won’t. For what we saw was not a dream.

It was unspeakable, unthinkable, but it was not a dream. People did perish. Buildings did fall.Homes swept away. Lives were lost and many are still missing.

And we are sad. We are sad for the innocent people who died, for their children who will not see them, for their spouse who must bury them. We grieve the loss of life.

But our grief goes even deeper. As we mourn the death of people, we mourn the death of an image. Just as the skyline of the city is forever altered, or a coastline is forever altered so is our view of the world.

We thought we were untouchable, impenetrable, perhaps even immortal.
With the loss of innocent lives is the loss of innocence itself.
Perhaps we should have known better, but we didn’t.

So what can we do? "When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do?"


At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When life falls apart, what remains struggle to live on ...


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