When the news broke yesterday that 21 Egyptians were beheaded by ISIS for being “people of the cross” and this picture circulated with headlines everywhere, I found myself thrust into the bosom of sorrow; my unhardened heart was–and still is–laid open upon the ground, bleeding. And my prayers came free and barely above a whisper because how does one even speak when confronted with an image of brother against brother, cold blade to warm flesh?
The tears weren’t mine to control. They spiked my lashes drop by persistent drop, gathered and scattered to leave pathways of salt on my cheeks. Yes, each one was a lamentation for the souls that left the world too soon, but even more so for the men standing in the back dressed in black.
Sometimes when our vision is blurred with holy emotion, we can actually see the best and for this suspended moment in time I couldn’t stop staring at them through the salty pools filming my eyes… They are the faceless ones. The ones in hiding. The ones robed in darkness. The ones who hold the sword and the power and the scalp of prisoners, but aren’t actually free.
I couldn’t stop staring at them.
It was as if I was being seized and hypnotized by a Force bigger than myself and sometimes don’t we just need our gazes held in one place until we fall headlong and truly madly deeply fiercely in love with our foes like they were born from the same Womb as us. Because I believe they were in all the essential ways–the Womb of heaven; stardust and Spirit breath. What sustains them also sustains me and I wish upon a Nazareth star that I could press both my hands above their aortas just to feel them beating in time with mine. And maybe if I lingered long enough they would sense a spark, a transfer of Love. This is what I imagine when I pray: Love goes out from me to them, I am a conduit.
They are classified by the world as my enemies, but on the other side of Christ and his cross they are known to me as my brothers. My brothers who don’t yet know that home is where Love is and that we are all one family and I want them at my table feasting on food and forgiveness and around my hearth sharing redemption stories and singing hallelujah songs and seeing for the first time and the grief is great for the evil that grips them and keeps them behind the bars of bondage. It should not be so. Let us scrape our two bald and trembling knees against the ground until liberation unleashes in great engulfing waves, pours forth from the four corners of the earth like Kingdom come is waterfalling from the mouths of our united prayers.
Right now, on the other side of the world, our brothers are murdering our brothers. Let us pray until there is no hate, only love. Let us pray for the terrorized and the terrorists, one and all. Our family.
Update: After receiving a fair bit of pushback to this post, I wrote further thoughts called The Offensive Truth. You can read it here.