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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A lament for Otto and Nabra, for London, for Earth

Last night Otto Warmbier died.  You know the story:  a young college student on an adventure trip is accused of stealing a poster from a hotel wall in North Korea and ends up sentenced to 15 years hard labor.  Seventeen months later, North Korea sends him back to the USA in a coma, and in less than a week he dies.  This could have been us.  Otto grew up in the same small suburb of Cincinnati that Scott did.  He attended the same high school, graduated with academic and athletic honors, like Scott.  Went to UVA, like Scott, not a common pathway from Cincinnati.  He was the age of our kids now.  It gives me a pit in my stomach, to imagine his parents receiving him home in an awake coma, unresponsive.  The fact that he held on for 17 months then died when he reached them seems to point to his ability to perceive more than we realized, that he finally relaxed and let go.

Nabra Hassan also died yesterday.  She was a 17 year old girl and she was murdered 2 miles from the home where I grew up.  As a muslim, she was observing Ramadan, meaning fasting from sunup to sundown and praying and eating with friends during the night.  She was walking back to the mosque from an IHOP with a group of fellow teens returning to pray, when a 22 year old man engaged in a verbal fight with them, drove his car up onto the curb, and though the story is incomplete it seems he got out of his car with a baseball bat as the teens ran.  Nabra tripped, and was the one caught, bludgeoned, and dumped in a pond.  We don't know if her assailant targeted this group because of their dress, but it seems pretty suspicious to me the day after a similar incident in London.

This morning my heart sinks with the sorrow of these two young people.  Empathy comes more quickly when we have a human connection, in this case our two childhood homes.  My Bible reading this morning was Job 14.  It makes sense at this moment to sit with the lament, for days few and full of trouble, for the parched river that dries up as the soul disappears in the grave, for hope destroyed.  To ponder the enormity of evil.

In John 11, the same Jesus who preached resurrection, wept.  Death was not the end of the story, but it would always be a crucial part of the story of that friendship, that family.  Of all of us.  At that moment, trapped in time, he mourned with his friends.

Let us lament Otto and Nabra, the dozens of Londoners killed in the terrorist attacks on the bridges and the street, or in the horrific fire.  Baby D who succumbed in our newborn unit to overwhelming infection after being born two months early this week.  Death stings, moreso the closer you are.  Even though every person ever born has died or will die, we appropriately recognize that this should not be the end.  Let us not rush through Lamentations, or Psalms, to the comfort, before we let the bitterness and woe sink in.

Those who watch in the darkness will embrace most dearly the dawn.

1 comment:

Martha Ritchie said...

This speaks to my heart. Beautifully said. There IS a time to weep, a time to mourn. I used to try to skip the grieving to the part where God works all things together for good for those who are called according to His purpose, but I have come to realize the grief and sadness are necessary. Thankfully, we do not grieve as those who have no Hope. May the Lord grant us to share that hope. It is the dear friend who enters into the mourning of another. Thanks for inviting us to join in the mourning, and to really ponder the lostness and evil that surrounds us.