May 2, 2011

ding dong, the witch is dead...

I found out that Osama Bin Laden had been killed last night as I was crawling into bed.  It has been a long week, I was tired, and my husband came in and announced the big news.  My husband!  Who normally isn't all that concerned about world politics/situations. 

The first thing I thought of was - "no way!" And then - "hmm... I wonder what that means?"

Today, I had a congregational funeral to deal with.  No time to think about it... although a few people here and there mentioned it and I caught a few clips of stories on NPR.

This afternoon, I was knee deep in reciepts and deposit slips trying to account for donations and reimbursement items from a month of busyness and a couple of youth fundraisers.

And when I got home at 5pm, I really didn't want to think about it.  I plugged in the headphones, turned up the music, and mowed my lawn for the first time of the year.

I found a few stray plants - an iris that was in the middle of the yard, a few ferns that started growing outside of their beds - so I moved them to better locations.  I raked up the grass clippings and I put them underneath the strawberries. I sprayed some turf builder on the grass until it ran out.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that nothing in my life has changed. Probably nothing in most of our lives has changed.

I listened here and there to various stories as I made a quick trip to the gas station for lawn mower gas and then again after I was finished to pick up some spaghetti noodles.  And everyone was talking about how this one guy created so much destruction.

My first thought is - we probably are giving the guy too much credit.  The organization he was the head of is not a one person show.  Yes, he was the face and figurehead of so much terror that has occured in this world, but I'm not going to let one person scare me or turn my world upside down. I'm not going to concede and give him that power.

My second thought relates to that strange mythological status that we have given him.  Kind of like the Wicked Witch of the East... at her sudden death, the people started singing and dancing in celebration.  Suddenly they were freed from the fear and the frustration, the anger and the pent up revenge and hostility... they burst forth in song in relief.

I can't help but see images and hear audio from those crowds that have gathered to celebrate without transporting myself to Oz.  It is surreal, it is strange, it is funny and yet... not really.

As a Christian, the only reason that I celebrate the death of another person is because I believe in the power of resurrection.  I believe in the grace and mercy of God that takes what is perishable and makes it eternal.  I believe in the new creation.

I don't believe I have been given the ability to judge another person's life. It is not for me to determine their eternal destiny.  And... I cannot put a limit on God's power to transform and renew and restore even the darkness itself. 

I find no reason at all to celebrate the death of a man who killed many.  It doesn't make me happy or feel good.  It doesn't bring me joy.  It just reminds me that we are mortal.  That our grabs for power and our bent towards hatred and evil are real and that they are destructive.  This reality sinks me farther into the human condition.  We are broken.  All of us.  And we need help. 

If we can turn back towards God and seek peace...
If we can remember that justice and revenge are God's work and not our own...
If we can love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us...

Maybe then, I might be able to celebrate. 

But for now, I'm going to get my hands dirty and plant some irises.

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