“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Rumi
He doesn’t looking both ways when he crosses the street.
He runs out scared onto Poplar Avenue, our busiest thoroughfare, and turns back confused, back and forth scurrying, between car dodging, not knowing. How can a stray dog be expected to understand the comings-and-goings of life in the fast lane or vacuous people operating large machinery or the simple fact that things move too quickly around here?
He is hit and I am witness.
The offending car stops abrupt, driver distraught. I never saw him, he came from out of nowhere are the words we wail after the deed is done, and they are true. We seem to never see it coming. Dog and driver are both injured, both wobble weak onto the hot summer street – one broken leg, one broken heart.
Time slows after injury, after tragedy – even city traffic seems to respect the moment. The pup tries to stand after his brief encounter, but only once. Unable to walk, he scoots and drags himself to find ironic shelter under the very vehicle that broke him; he lies to rest in the shady spot under her car.
Good people get to work, as good people will. Cars pull over and out of the way, one man directs traffic while another stoops to calm and rescue the pup. So many people stop to help that it becomes problematic; my car is motioned out of the way and down a side street. It is not my day to be rescuer; today I am but observer.
I do not know the truthful ending of this story, so I will tell the proper one instead, the better one.
The dog lives.
He is taken to the vet where his leg is carefully set, and now only a tiny limp remains to remind us all to watch more carefully as we bulldoze our way through this life. The woman who hit him now adopts him and he is homeless no more, a stray properly rescued, loved and cared for by the very one who injured him most. The essence of grace.
His leg heals and so does her heart, a beautiful conclusion.
I live with and love two dogs, Joe and Andy. I must insist upon this ending, the better story.
I am a great fan of irony. The fact that the English language has two words with precisely the same pronunciation but the exact opposite meaning intrigues me. (I can think about these sorts of things too much, I fear.)
Consider the words raze and raise ~ identical in sound, opposite in meaning.
The Amish community will raise a barn this afternoon. Or will they raze it? Unless one sees the word in print or has a solid grasp of the context of the sentence, one cannot know whether the Amish are building a barn this afternoon or tearing one down.
Could it be the same is often true with us, we regular folk living our regular lives? We want to raise each other up and be raised up by others, we want to encourage and support and exhort, and sometimes we do – we raise another up in purity and compassion, seeking nothing for ourselves, only the good of another. But too often in our petty fear and selfish insecurity and natural discontent, these sins that so easily beset us, we tear people down in futile attempts to raise ourselves up in the eyes of others and, of course, in our own eyes. I will gossip and impugn you, lie about you and ignore you, or even shoot you in your own church in the subconscious and ugly hope that tearing you down will somehow raise me up.
I sometimes raze to raise ~ do you do this? While I adore this wordplay, the truth of it aches. And the kingdom of God suffers. Mankind suffers.
The story of the wounded pup exemplifies this irony. In the better story, the woman who razes the dog also raises him. There is hope.
The better story looks different from person to person, but mine is oddly like the pup’s.
I too was hit by a car once. Collision head-on, in the rain, the other driver passing on a hill, full speed ahead in the wrong lane, his headlights shining bright in my unsuspecting eyes.
Broken, wounded, torn ~ I was razed completely.
The process of falling and standing again is sometimes long; mine was. Femur and liver and gall bladder ~ surgeries three, like weird sisters. We want you to sit up in the chair today, can you try? Breathe, don’t forget to breathe.
I eventually move from bed to chair, one day I am introduced to a walker and then a pair of crutches, I even spend a few days with a cane. It is oh-so-many months before I plant two feet hard onto terra firma and take a first confident step.
Head-on collisions are figurative as well as literal. You are thinking of yours, I’ll bet.
Like those who stopped to help the pup and those who stood beside me to help me walk again, there is a sympathetic community of the broken that surrounds when one is razed, literally and figuratively. https://rolltheboulder.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/the-community-of-the-broken/
This community is comprised of other broken folk who can be honest and remember their own pain, they can see and feel in your moment the time of their own weakness. It is called empathy and there are those who practice it. Those who have tasted the bitter pill of hopelessness and can remember its acrid pungence – these are folk on whom brokenness has not been wasted.
Find those, for they will carry you. And they are out there, I promise – just look for the open hands and quiet, calm hearts. Come to my church ~ we are a band of honest, broken folk who have not forgotten what that feels like. And it is magnificently beautiful.
Pray without ceasing, be honest about your pain, and then do not be surprised when empathy knocks and brings a lemon cake to your door. And good listening ears – empathy always listens more than it speaks.
Some folk fall and do not get back up; sometimes that is the story. But sometimes, often actually, the fallen rise again. The community of other broken folk brings them crutches and kindness and patience and pie. This community stops for the hurt pups on the side of the road and actually cares for them, taking them to get their legs mended and bringing them water. And human compassion. And hope.
People raze others to raise themselves. We see in all around and far too frequently ~ this very week a white supremist shot nine congregants in their own house of worship. We feel this despair and know something must be done about this.
But do not lose heart, beloved ones; not everyone lives this way, not all people carry hate and guns. Compassion can be taught and people can forgive, even the very man who murdered their family. Unthinkable, unbelievable even. And yet… http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2015/06/dylann-roof-manifesto-forgiveness/396428/
They are our example. They embrace the Example, and so can we.
He Who was razed, raised. He lives. He is raised from the dead. He Who razes, raises. Though he slay me, though I fall hard and feel like dying, yet will I trust in Him, says Job-the-destitute. Says me. The unexpected by-product of all this falling and standing, falling and standing, falling and standing can be empathy. I will stand alongside you as long as it takes and you will stand by me.
I want to live like this. Join me in living like this. We can change the world; community like this can change the world. It can.
The poet Rumi is right in saying “the wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Let us embrace the wound and thus embrace the light. Let us not be ones on whom brokenness is wasted.