Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Cry (Sindile)

I've read the bible front to back 3, maybe 4 times (I can't remember), and probably two of my favourite books are Ecclesiastes and Lamentations.
Neither book resolves.


Both books are packed with the darker elements of human emotion; both books are raw and uncomfortable and face the relentless meaninglessness and even loneliness that assails us, that is so wrapped up in the human condition.
I like Lamentations precisely because it is a book that doesn't ask people to "praise through the storm" or a book that holds up some future hope, in fact it is the minimal hope, the misery, the wailing and almost crushing sense of destitution that moves me in the book..........
While I understand the exhortations in the Psalms and other places, I despise happy clappy religion; religion that reduces the mess and complexity and excess of the human experience, that dulls the cry of the heart, because it is in only facing our own darkest emotions, in being able to sit silently while the tears stream down and face ourselves that we can find our humanity, our deepest sense of compassionate wisdom.
In the story of the Good Samaritan, most translations say the man was "moved with pity"(or some derivative of it) when he saw the man beaten, lying on the side of the road. If you read this passage in the original language, a better translation would be to say that, "his guts writhed with compassion" when he saw the man destitute and beaten, that is to say he had a visceral, gut-punch, a deeply human response when he saw the man and because of that he was moved to go the absolute extra mile for him.
He knew.
He knew destitution. He knew brokenness. He knew it could have been him and unlike the Levite and priest, his humanity superseded any rules of cleanliness, any excuses not to help the man, because he saw himself in that man.
He knew at that moment what it meant to love his neighbour as himself...........
We are human first and everything else second.
I hate happy clappy religion so much, precisely because it loses sight of this, loses sight of the mess and complexity and excess of being human, because out of those things are born neighbourliness and compassionate wisdom and love, because love perfects through suffering.
"Elahi! Elahi! Lama Sabachtani" is viscerally human.
It's messy. It isn't resolving. It's just the cry of a human heart.
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Other Guest Posts with Sindile Vabaza
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