‘Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow’
these lines from Lamentations are often read during Holy Week and used for meditation and reflection, but they also resonate for everyone struck by personal or community tragedy. Returning after a few days away from email I was overwhelmed by the number that I had from charity and campaign sites… all asking for money or a signature for this or that campaign. One was for feral pigs being shot, another for baby seals clubbed to death, another for child brides, another against the destruction of some wilderness area and so on. Oceans of suffering and pain across the world. And all those suffering whether human or animal or of the environment seemed to have no voice except for those supporting their cause. And who are we who pass by … looking at such sorrow … then perhaps if we feel in the right mood or have the time offering a signature here and some money there … are we innocent or guilty bystanders?
Whichever there is a common responsibility and yet at another level it seems so hopeless. Does any of it make a difference…? Thomas Merton reassured Jim Forest a young peace activist that it was best to think that you could effect no change but that you carried on anyway… something like small candles in the wind. Merton writing in a letter in 1961 ‘And in the political dark I light small, frail lights about peace and hold them up in the whirlwind’.
Christianity offers such small frail lights in the darkness of great suffering… but first as Good Friday approaches we have to enter into the dark and the whirlwind…hoping against hope….