As I sit in horror watching the news reports today of the tragedy in Paris I can’t help but think about my one brief moment there. It was in 2007 and I had gone on a mission trip with a group of young musicians and youth leaders and other young emerging missionaries to Budapest. I have written a little about this before in my post, “park bench prophet”. It’s crazy to say a mission trip is magical, maybe even wrong to say that, but it was for me. Transformational. From the inside out I began to wake up to how big the world is, how we all yearn for love, and how connected we are as part of the human family, each created in the image of God.
On the way home we were grounded for the night in Paris due to some mechanical failure, or missed connection, or weather. I can’t remember the reason. I only remember that it was serendipity. Since it was the airlines “fault” they put the nine of us up in a hotel near the airport. Each of us had our own room and vouchers for dinner and breakfast. Pretty nice. Of course none of us had luggage but we didn’t care. We were just excited for this unexpected opportunity to experience a bit of Paris. After dinner we rode the train to the Eiffel Tower. We bought champagne and drank it out of paper cups, toasting and taking pictures of each other in front of this most magnificent wonder. I especially loved the twinkly lights that came on periodically. The thing I remember the most was the sweetness of the night. It seemed a little like a fairy tale to me. Peaceful and joyful. Everyone milling around having fun, smiling and talking. Even in a language I didn’t understand I could hear words of connection and love. We bought chocolate croissants and ate them on the sidewalk before taking a cab back to the hotel. I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted anything more delicious.
Today I saw where the Eiffel Tower has gone dark in memoriam of all those who died and who are injured. It breaks my heart to think of the contrast of today to that night eight years ago. Darkness where there was light. Sadness where there was joy. Death where there was so much life. Once again I am reminded of the brokenness of humanity. And the enormous consequences, a result of a faith becoming radicalized to the point of violence. How can we do such evil to one another. I sit in fear, worried for my granddaughters. Will they live in safety or fear? Will they know peace in their lifetime or war? What has gone wrong and how can it be set right? So many questions, so few answers.
When we got back to our hotel rooms that night in Paris I spent an hour trying to take a contact out of my right eye, only to realize later I had never put it in the morning before. I prodded, and tugged, and poked my eye in an all out effort to remove the nonexistent contact, never thinking for one minute that I might be wrong or of the damage I might be causing to my eye. I lost perspective. I had assaulted my eye for nothing. My eye was sore and red for weeks. I’m lucky it wasn’t severely damaged. Today I remember the injury I caused to myself I think of those people who have become radically misguided to this point of violence. What will it take for them to see this perceived call to violence is nothing but a tragic distortion of their true call to faith and peace? Will they gain perspective before it’s too late? And I wonder in my own life, where have I lost perspective? And who might I be hurting by my words or actions in the process of protecting what I think is important? Jesus said to love God and love our neighbor. Even the neighbors we hate. Jesus died loving neighbors who hated him. And he rose to show love survives hate.
I have so many questions. So few answers. So, I pray for all of the victims in Paris and elsewhere who are victims of these senseless, cowardice, faithless acts of violence. And I pray for the misguided souls who believe they are actually doing good by doing evil. I pray for us all. I pray that there will be a time when we feel and truly are safe. And I pray the power of Love will prevail, that Jesus’ commandment to love God and love our neighbor might be made manifest in all humanity. That it might be on earth as it is in heaven.
Something to chew on…