As I held in loving memory the 148 slain, mostly children, by the Taliban on Tuesday, it struck me that this was also the day that, at sundown, Jews all around the world would begin to celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. And, this reminded me of a story told by Elie Wiesel in his book Night of a young boy who was hanged in Auschwitz for a minor infraction of the camp rules. As the boy dangled from the rope, Wiesel was asked by someone, “Where is God now?” And, a voice deep within him replied, “Here He is – He is hanging here on the gallows.”
Mother Teresa said, ”We look but we don’t see.” When the unspeakable happens, when we nakedly witness our inhumanity to one another, we cringe in horror. And, perhaps, from some seething anger aching to explode, we may cry out in vengeful rage, “Where is God? Where are you?” But, perhaps, if we can adjust our vision just enough, we too might be able to see God right before us and to quietly hear the answer: “I am right here – holding you in your rage, grief and despair. I am here among the shattered glass, the small crumpled jacket, the broken eyeglasses, the tiny shoe, the pools of blood. Yes, I am here. I am here when you feel there is nothing left. I am here – the song that will not be silenced from your most wounded heart, clinging like a wingless bird to a withered branch. I am here – an eternal flicker of Light in this unspeakable darkness. Adjust your vision. Look. I am here.”
Is this not our charge as a community of faith? Is it not both our great challenge as well as blessing to learn to adjust our vision to see God just where we may not have thought to look? Let us rise up dear community and join our collective vision to march in solidarity affirming the Truth that will make ‘all’ of us free, that only that which is born of goodness is lasting. I invite us to join in spirit with our Jewish brothers and sisters to light a candle in our hearts everyday in remembrance of this truth for in the great words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Let us not be defeated nor be left disheartened by untruth. As Krishna tells Arjuna on the great battlefield of life when he is wavering in his duty, Stand up scorcher of foes!! Let us do the same – to fight for the victory of compassion and connection among all peoples and against hatred and evil.
Let us pause, adjust our vision, and see. And then, let us light a candle in our hearts so bright that all may see our good works…so, just perhaps, those in great despair may be able to hear the voice of God, ever so softly, whispering through us… Here I am. I am here.