Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Hardest Boy to Love

The news snaked my way as I slept, oblivious for a few hours to the turmoil happening several miles down. Then day came, then light. The weight of what happened lurched in like a tide, wave by wave, each one a little larger. By lunchtime I had the full picture, or at least as full as it would ever get. Someone I love deeply had been hurt and in those early moments in my mind, there was hell to pay. I sucked hard on the thought of retribution, let it linger in my mouth. I was surprised by its sweetness.

It was instinctive and it seemed, fleetingly, like the best gift I could give - that flaming arrow of shared outrage shooting straight from me to her.

I'm not as good at blame as I used to be and I've seen too much of life lately to think for a second that we aren't all scrubbing the same stains. I've seen enough to believe that casting the first stone isn't just a bad idea in parable or in theory.

But how could I ever love that boy?

I know him, just barely. I've tried at every turn to cast him in the best possible light, and he doesn't make it easy. Hadn't I done my part? Can't there be an eventual end to grace? Is everything exempt from the thick stroke of a hard line?

Without warning or invitation, Father Boyle's words slid hard across the floor of my heart, waiting for me to decide.

Isn't the highest honing of compassion that which is hospitable to victim and victimizer both?... Dante speaks of having compassion for the damned. We need not feel soft on crime if we see this kind of compassion as its highest calibration. Jesus says if you love those who love you, big wow (which I believe is the original Greek). He doesn't suggest that we cease to love those who love us when he nudges us to love our enemies. Nor does Jesus think the harder thing is the better thing. He knows it's just the harder thing. But to love the enemy and to find some spaciousness for the victimizer, as well as the victim, resembles more of the expansive compassion of God. That's why you do it.     - Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart

I tried to pat his words on the head and keep on walking, but they followed me around until I accepted their truth.

There is no one right among us.
Justice and mercy don't have to be mutually exclusive.
Rage is not the best I have to offer.

The blind fury has faded but my heart still winces for her and I can't say I've found love yet.

I want justice for him. I want him locked up and away. I want him to lose something, to hurt for something.

I want peace for her, wisdom for her. I want her to wake tomorrow with the brand-new understanding of her own self-worth cast over her like a shawl. 

I want to fix her broken places and I want to do the same for his, but those places are well out of my reach and I've never even managed to fix myself.

 Healing is not in my jurisdiction and neither is judgment.

But love I can do, or at least I can try.