“We all live in a harsh world, but at least I know I do.” Tom Branson
About a month ago I got into Downton Abby. Friends had been encouraging me for almost a year to watch the show and when I finally gave in I was hooked. The dialogue above struck me immediately but as I had a few other blog posts lined up I delayed in writing about them. I planned to write about the state of American culture, specifically in suburbia. I’d planned to write on our talent at escapism, our self-medication, our worship of comfort and subsequent flight from pain. I’d planned to talk about how easy it is for us in the U.S. to ignore, escape, numb ourselves against the difficulties of life by means of entertainment, drugs, and activity. I wanted to encourage myself and others to face hardships with open eyes and flee from slipping into comfortable oblivion in which we avoid conflict and stop our ears to the cries of our own souls and those of others.
Then came Monday. Stories of the explosions in Boston, images of bloodied runners and paramedics, the realization that someone I knew was in that race… Pain became difficult to ignore as the media flooded with information, heartache, horror. I cried reading the story of the eight year old boy killed at the finish line, of the war veteran who assisted with the injured, remembering like echoes Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, the day the planes crashed into those buildings my sophomore year of high school…
“What’s going on in the world?”
“Things are getting worse and worse.”
“This makes me sick.”
We do hide ourselves so well from pain, but moments like this remind us that we can’t forever run from it, remind us of the harsh world we live in, of the universal effect of sin. My heart breaks for Boston right now, but even in my horror I don’t think I feel the pain like I should. The pain is over there, far away. It’s their harsh world beyond the computer screen, past the radio waves, in Boston and this breaks my heart further still. It’s easy for me to forget the harsh world in which I live, all too easy to stick my head in the sand and click to the next episode of a TV show on Netflix. So I am praying for my numbed heart, for a greater compassion for that which feels far away, for a greater compassion for the groaning around me, and most of all for those right now in the midst of a horror I can’t imagine.
26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the [a]saints according to the will of God.