Saturday, November 16, 2013

say yes bigger


I want to redeem my life so that I am not remembered for the very worst thing that I've done and 
that maybe somebody would look at the totality of my life and maybe have the scales 
balanced. That, to me, would be a form of redemption for me.
The ones who need mercy the most deserve it least. 
--Leonard, a convict in the Kentucky Correctional System, and Antonio in Shakespeare Behind Bars' 2003 Production of The Tempest

Being a limited human being means that sometimes all you can do for your brother or sister is offer up your prayers.
Continually offering up another person doesn't so much change them, as really and truly transform you. Because you may be more broken, more grasping, and more in need of transformation that you would wish to believe.
So you pray, which means to bring before God, because, like leaves caught in candles, our prayers and our offering, our sacrifice fuels the flame of love.
A sacrifice which is a form of redemption.
Redemption means to save lives.
Yesterday, I witnessed two very different forms of redemption.
Firstly, there was the heart-breakingly beautiful and hopelessly sad tale of the men in Shakespeare Behind Bars, men at Luther Luckett Correctional Facility who create a piece of Shakespeare per year. We watched them create The Tempest, a tale whose very heart is vengeance, redemption, and forgiveness. 
Forgiveness, as Red (who plays Miranda), tries to work out, is offered not so much because the other person needs it, or you need it, but because without it, something will go awry.
Not because it is deserved or merited or earned, but for some other, sort of numinous and nebulous reason.

Because forgiving all injuries done to you is a work of mercy.
And I've often wondered if the neat little list of works of mercy (divided cleanly into corporal and spiritual) are really a sort of secret.
Everybody loves secrets. Secrets are delightful. It is strange and wonderful to see into the heart of a mystery. To possess the key to unlock the entire puzzle.
And I think these works of mercy are acts of love that, if you perform, will transform your heart, so that your transformed heart will want to do nothing else but them.
If you have received a love that can redeem you, that can break you out of the prison of your heart, I think once the prison of your heart is broken, then the inmates will spill out of yourself.
Your heart would begin to love in ways like these works of mercy.

Bury the Dead.

The world today was a funeral.
The sky was grey.
There was one solitary drop of rain that fell on my head.
I marched in a long procession from the basilica to the open grave.
I have never accompanied a human being along that walk before. 
It was strange to think their body was going to disappear from the world of men. 
And it seemed so right for a long train of people to look so solemn, even the little girl in front of me had sincere and serious eyes.
For most of us will most likely continue on with our day, relatively unfazed.
But a human being is so worthy of our undivided attention, and our solemn accompaniment. There is no reason to show up and bury one's dead in that fashion, except that there is no good way to usher a human being from this earth.
Except to offer them up to the hands of the One who brought them here.
And trust that He who has brought them to you will gently bring them away.
I watched the elderly gentlemen see their brother off, watched them bid him adieu.
They looked sad, and yet not with a raging sadness, but with a tragic, beautiful sadness that always seems to accompany the ravages of time.
It is the fate of a human to be a victim of time, of our lives being inescapably stretched out over a frame of time passing.
This band of friends knew their brother had lived out the fate of all humans, which is to fall prey to time.
They stood so nobly: for human beings insist on achieving so much before their time is spent, and they execute their bold feat of living with much courage.
Most importantly, they did not seem afraid.
Death is a much larger secret than I think I could ever imagine.


Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, 
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave not a rack behind. 
We are such stuff 
As dreams are made on; 
and our little life 
Is rounded with a sleep.
--Prospero, The Tempest

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