Saturday, February 12, 2011

Getting It Off My - Desk

As I was wrestling with the notion of writing a blog having to do with post traumatic stress I knew I would have to do it. It went on my desk and there it has stayed, stayed, stayed.
They are British World War I war poems. As much as I love to read to Annelie, these I do not, for reasons obvious to many. Of all the poetry I love, I treasure these most, however. Among these poets is Siegfried Sassoon. I do not know if the one I will share with you is the most gut wrenching, but it will do.

The Bishop tells us: “When the boys come back
They will not be the same; for they’ll have fought
In a just cause: they lead the last attack
On Anti-Christ; their comrade’s blood has bought
New right to breed an honorable race.
They have challenged Death and dared him face to face.”

“We’re none of us the same!” the boys reply.
“For George lost both his legs; and Bill’s stone blind;
Poor Jim’s shot through the lungs and like to die;
And Bert’s gone syphilitic: you’ll not find
A chap who’s served that hasn’t found some change.”
And the bishop said: “The ways of God are strange.”

All of us struggle with the challenge here, even if only the ripples show at our level of consciousness. Dietrich Bonhoeffer left the safety of his Bavarian monastery to take that road leading to the end of a rope. Jurgen Moltmann was in an American p.o.w. camp for two years, converted by a chaplain, and went on to write The Theology of Hope. There is a lot left dangling. Paul Tillich set out to write four volumes on systematic theology, but he quit at three. He could find no way to systematize our faith today; he only finished the fourth because of the ph.d. candidates who were hanging their degrees on his work.
So we question, you and I, sister and brother, preachers, patients, children all. We cannot help but do it: our humanity – not the existence of God – is at stake.

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