Friday, August 16, 2013

Was It For This The Clay Grew Tall?

from Jacqueline

If you’ve lived a few years on this planet, you come to know that, at the opposite end of the good and the bad things that happen in this world, there is the truly magnificent and the unbearably horrific.  Always we must rejoice in the magnificent, and always we must grieve, collectively, for that which is beyond bearable, but has to be borne, somehow. 

Today, having seen the photographs of the Hades that Egypt has become, I find I am looking back at the terrors I have known, even since childhood, and I am glad that I am shocked anew. I am glad that I feel sick to my stomach about the suffering of people who are not simply living the fear we associate with, say, losing a job, or dealing with bereavement, the loss of a house, divorce – all those events are terrible in themselves, but I know that with time the grieving passes and that life spreads out the tablecloth of possibility once more, and we are invited to take a bite of whatever nourishment that is laid out for us.  It might not be quite what we enjoyed before, and it might take some getting used to, but, for most of us, time heals.  And I know that time can, eventually, heal the wounds of collective disaster too, though the scar tissue runs deep and broad, and it takes work, and people coming together, putting aside their anger, fear, grief, and doing their best to wash away the misery with love.

I wonder how long will it take Egypt to recover from the terror that is borne every day by ordinary people?  Just a couple of years ago it was the big tourist destination – Europeans flocked there in their thousands on package vacations - and now this.  Apparently tourists in the coastal resorts are being told to remain inside their hotels until their departure, and of course, they're leaving as soon as they can.

But what has touched me today, in the midst of the photographs of this human disaster, is this photograph. 

 A lone woman trying to stop a bulldozer from crushing a wounded man.  It looks like Tiananmen Square all over again – remember that?

And remember this young Iranian woman?

 Her name was Neda, which means “voice.”  And I am left wondering about the terror that comes with having the courage to want a voice in this world.

Today is one of those days when the closing words of  the poem, “Futility” by WW1 poet, Wilfred Owen, come immediately to mind:

Was it for this the clay grew tall?

—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil

To break earth’s sleep at all?

I am sure there are some who might say the photograph of the Egyptian woman was staged, or it was all so and so’s fault, while pointing the finger around the globe, and adding, well, this is just what happens in these places, isn’t it?  Or there are those who will ignore the news, trusting the phoenix of hope to eventually fledge, after all, it has before, eventually.  Or they might say that there has to be some sort of sacrifice to shock people into a new way of being. Frankly, right now I don’t care about all that, because I’ve heard it all before.  I just know that humanity has shot itself in the foot yet again, and we are witness to a tragedy of monstrous proportions.  God help those who are caught up in this hell on earth.

With all my heart, I wish you peace this weekend - wherever you are in the world.  Cherish your freedom, honor your voice and cradle your peace gently.


  1. Thank you for this clear and powerful perspective.

    May God indeed help the hurting.

  2. Jackie, you have put into words my sentiments exactly. One's heart aches for humanity - or lack of!

  3. Beautiful, Our J. Grace in the midst of chaos.

  4. Thank you for your beautiful and compassionate words. x

  5. from Jacqueline

    Thanks, all for your comments. What a horrible time this is in so many places in the world.