Strange Mercy

"... and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

Location: Mid-Atlantic Sprawl, United States

I'm a former idealist turned 'defensive pessimist' who has concluded, after living on two coasts, two continents, and an island, that most of us spend our lives as prey, economically and psychologically. Awareness is the key to understanding this; but once we understand it, we may transcend it, choosing, when we can, to be neither prey nor predator.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

In Honor of Liviu Librescu

From the Jerusalem Post:

"As Jews worldwide honored on Monday the memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust, a 76-year-old survivor sacrificed his life to save his students in Monday's shooting at Virginia Tech College that left 33 dead and over two dozen wounded.

Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, threw himself in front of the shooter when the man attempted to enter his classroom. The Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer was shot to death, "but all the students lived - because of him," Virginia Tech student Asael Arad - also an Israeli - told Army Radio.

Several of Librescu's other students sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he had blocked the gunman's way and saved their lives, said Librescu's son, Joe.

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."

Librescu was respected in his field, his son said."

What words are worthy of such a man? Only the Word itself. From the Book of Ecclesiasticus [also called Sirach]: 44:1-10, 13-14:

Let us now praise famous men,
  And our fathers in their generations.
The Lord apportioned to them great glory,
  his majesty from the beginning.
There were those who ruled in their kingdoms,
  and were men renowned for their power,
giving counsel by their understanding,
  and proclaiming prophecies;
leaders of the people in their deliberations
  and in understanding of learning for the people,
  wise in their words of instruction;
those who composed musical tunes,
  and set forth verses in writing;
rich men furnished with resources,
  living peaceably in their habitations --
all these were honored in their generations,
  and were the glory of their times.

There are some of them who have left a name,
  So that men declare their praise.
And there are some who have no memorial,
  who have perished as though they had not lived;
they have become as though they had not been born,
  and so have their children after them.

But these were men of mercy,
  Whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten.
Their posterity will continue for ever,
  and their glory will not be blotted out.
Their bodies were buried in peace,
  and their name lives to all generations.

May you know eternal peace, eternal light, eternal love, Professor Librescu; and may your name live to all generations.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rejoice, Ye Daughters

Consider the radical feminist nature of God and of Christ:

Christ was descended from - among other women - Ruth, a Moabite [Obed, her son by Boaz: Luke 3:32], and Rahab, a reformed prostitute [Joshua 2 and 6, Matthew 1:5 - note Rahab is the mother of Boaz, whom Ruth the Moabite married].

His first revelation of His Messianic nature was to a Samaritan woman, living 'in sin', in her sixth relationship [John 4:7-26].

There were women among His disciples [Luke 24:22 - 24, as one example].

The disciple who first discovered His empty tomb, after the Resurrection, was Mary Magdalene, yet another reformed prostitute [John 20:1 - 18; see also Luke 24:22 - 24];

and lest we forget... his mother was as yet unmarried when she conceived him.

We easily forget that small detail, so easily forget just how much really was asked of her. Give up your reputation, child; risk not merely the scorn and rejection of your fiance, the pity and condemnation of your family and friends, but even risk being put to death, to bear this Gift.

-- Mary said Yes to the angel.

-- Rahab said Yes on the walls of Jericho.

-- Ruth said Yes to Naomi, and Yes to Boaz.

-- the Samaritan woman said Yes to Christ.

-- Magdalene said Yes to God.

They all said Yes to God.

These were human women, women of flesh and blood, women who were, or were willing to be seen as, different; foreign; alien; other; "less than", to the eyes of the world.

They were not the choices of a fusty, dusty God, but of a Lord filled with love and light and wry laughter, glad to be eating and drinking with publicans and sinners [Matthew 9: 10 - 11, Matthew 11:19; Mark 2:15 - 16, Luke 5:30, 7:34, 15:1].

He holds out His hands to all of us, to every woman everywhere, mocking our pretensions as He teaches us that the greatest virtue is not Virtue, but a heart that is willing to follow where He leads, a mind and a strength sufficient to allow Him to turn us from dross into gold.

Rejoice, ye Daughters!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Saints Alive

You meet saints everywhere. They can be anywhere. They are people behaving decently in an indecent society.

-- Kurt Vonnegut

It is warmer than usual here.
Alone in the stacks I pause to breathe,
Smell decades of musty journals
Dry, faint, like the breath of old men
Whose lives have here been gathered,
Trimmed, neatly bound, to be rifled
By the questing minds of strangers.

A woman in a light grey sweater
Leans intently over a page.
Her hair spills forward to frame her face
As she writes
Birthing ideas
Amid these dry relics of scholars innumerable.

Will my memento mori
Be lost on a library shelf,
Dust I am to dust returning
Until even the pages crumble?

© 1983