On my way to protest for peace, I pulled into a parking garage -- as I have every Wednesday for a month. It was the second time this week that I had ventured into a parking gargage. I had been forced to park in one the night before because I was late. As I pulled into the garage this second time, I breathed deeply. Parking garages have become scary places for me. I have forced myself to imagine the things that transpired with my brother a few weeks ago. It was in a parking garage -- a deserted parking garage -- where he affixed a hose into the interior of his car. It was here that we was found suffocating himself of carbon monoxide. Each week, as I have parked in this garage, I have thought of my brother. I have gazed at the view from the top floor of this garage and wondered what my brother saw. I wonder what music he was listening to and what he was thinking about.
Perhaps it is morbid to have these thoughts. Perhaps I should be concentrating on his safety and the fact that he is home rebuilding his life. Perhaps I should rejoice -- and yet, I'm struck by the fact that I'm called to understand how anyone could feel at a given moment. I'm called to listen (even when I'm not able). I'm called to be attentive to those things that others might not want to hear. And in listening, I believe my call is to celebrate both the highs and lows of the human experience. So, my mind wanders in the parking garage. And I try not to cry.
Next Sunday, I will be preaching on Psalm 137. This familiar Psalm that reminds me of the aftermath of 9/11 has an ending that the Lectionary and my own mind omit. This lamentation for the little ones heads to be dashed among the rocks. Not a pretty picture. Not Christian, one commentator says -- but I wonder if it's part of the human experience. This is a text that laments grief. It's a song of displacement and longing. And anyone that has lost someone they love knows that grief is an experience of displacement. It hurts. You feel like an alien in a strange land -- where there are emotions you are supposed to have but somehow can't claim. You want to hang up your harp. You can't find a song. You just want to weep by the river.
This is where I wonder about those little ones. Couldn't this also be an expression of grief? Perhaps not the healthiest of emotions to express -- but isn't it true that it happens? Could dashing the little ones heads against the rocks be like my brother's plight on the top floor of a parking garage? Could it be the same pain that I felt only a few weeks ago as I took the steps toward getting a mammogram? I wonder if this pain is part of the human experience. Excuse me. I know it is. I know that this is part of the story too. And yet, I wonder if I can share my part of the story. Do I dare preach about my own fears of cancer and what this means for my grief? I wonder.