Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Those Damnably Inconvenient Corpses - Part I

“Why?! Why did you –” I could not finish the sentence, could not let myself say those words. So instead, “Why did I have to see it?! Why?!” That expressed it, or at least enough of it. My next words came out in a wild, shrill crescendo of rage: “How could you have done that to me?! How could you?! How?!”

For days I had exuded searing misery. I cried at home, on the train, as I walked down the street, even at work in a very conservative, very correct law firm. My office was also the document repository for a mega-litigation but I emitted such pain that my co-workers sent lower level employees who knocked timidly and only when absolutely necessary. Occasionally I would hear, “Are you alright?” as I opened the door just enough to pass out what was required. But mostly they simply took what I proffered without comment.

Mine was an ancient pain beyond utterance and I could not have said whether I was angry or sad or filled with hate. And until now words had not come along with the tears only pain. But when words did come it did not surprise me that rage accompanied them. That too was ancient. In this time of looking into the past, of accepting that what was there was part and parcel of me and could no longer be ignored, rage had finally been given safe passage and was quite pleased to emerge whenever necessary.

I have no memory of a time when God was not a palpable presence in my life and I had become accustomed to his voice: a soft absolute certainty within the ears of my heart that I usually understood without words. But this afternoon a voice rang clearly and though my physical ears could not hear it, that voice filled my cavernous office: “Your grandfather’s life was worth no more to me than the lives of those who killed him. Your parent’s lives were worth no more to me than the lives of those who killed them. Your life is worth no more to me than the life of every other person I have created.”

In that moment I saw again the scene that had been replaying itself in my mind for years, the scene that had finally left me overflowing with misery. Two men in fatigue green uniforms faced grandpére separated from him by his desk. Marmar and I stood across the room, perhaps five feet away. I was about three. Even though it was all excruciatingly familiar, there was something new this time. Usually I saw it from the height of a three year old. With the confused lack of knowledge of a three year old. Experienced the numbing shock as a three year old. But this time my perspective was different. This time I observed from outside, from another height, another place.

The commander spoke. The other soldier took a gun from his holster. I knew what the gun held, knew its contents were real, that they must be real, that it was fitting for them to be real. I watched him level the gun at grandpére and waited in an eternal instant; I knew I watched choice. And when the soldier moved his finger and grandpére was thrown against the wall I heard myself moan in agony not because grandpére was dead, not even because I had seen it, but because of their choices.

The most important people in the room that day were those soldiers and years later I finally saw it. But at the same moment the ugly hatred that had filled my soul, that I had suppressed when it longed to demand of God why he had let my grandpére die began to well up inside me once again: What those soldiers had done to me was all that mattered. What they deserved for hurting me, for hurting him, that’s what counted. (I could feel my face pouting.) Yet I was curious: I wondered how they had felt. I asked God if they had had children, had had little girls like me. If they would want their children to see such a horror. I wanted to know what had happened to them: If they had found healing, had sought forgiveness. God did not answer. The ugly hatred tugged at my attention but I wanted to know. It was intolerable that they should carry that ugliness forever, intolerable that they should never be free of it. I heard myself asking God to please make them whole.

That request opened a new flood of tears but not tears of misery, nor of rage, nor of hatred. Now I cried because something hard and painful had been pulverized and was being washed from my heart. I cried because I realized that my beloved grandpére had loved those who had killed him. I cried because I was worth no more than anyone else. And I cried because I realized that God had offered me choice and showed me that I could love the unlovable.


Adam said...

A beautiful post, Dru, just like the one you dropped of at I'm proud of you. Your mode of articulation is beautiful, and your experiences gripping and powerful. I wish you many happy years as a blogger... and of course, God bless you and all those you love.

Hannah said...


I'm so sorry for your horrible experience and pray God continues to heal your heart and grant you mercies.

BTW, congratulations and thanks for starting your new blog. I've always enjoyed your posts on DP and now I see you're a fantastic writer as well! I'll be checking it frequently from now on!


Anonymous said...


Just want to say two things...

1. It is crass stupidity to love those who kill in cold blood. All right, I'll agree that the term "love" is a loose one... ill-defined and various in meaning, but still, to "love" in whatever guise must also mean to cherish and give thanks to (and I KNOW a preposition is something you never end a sentence WITH!). If someone were to kill me or a member of my family when such a punishment were not deserved (and rarely if ever is it) I would not love that person; to elevate that unholy soul to the stature of being "loved" by me is mere self-flageollation. It is counter-productive to and interferes with justice.

2. There is no such word as "alright". What you are trying to say by the use of that 'word' is "all right". :-)

Drusilla said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Drusilla said...

Anonymous -

I might say, 'I would never love' but God doesn't. My allegiance belongs to him and not to myself. So if he teaches me love for those who have killed my family, I will love because I'd rather be like him than anything else.

And the word 'alright' does exist and can be found in Merriam Webster and other dictionaries.

Thanks for your response.

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog via The Dawn Patrol. Beautifully written post. I look forward to reading more.

-- Bridget

Anonymous said...

I am curious about something Drucilla: Do you believe that only Catholicism is the way to God/heaven ect, or are there multiple paths?


Drusilla said...

Atheiststatic -

I do not believe Catholicism is the only way to God/heaven. I believe it's the best way, the way that most fully continues Christ's presence and ministry but I don't believe that God is proud - if we will accept him, he accepts us.

At the same time I do believe that Christ is the only way to God but that there are those who come through Christ without going through the church.

Anonymous said...

I see. Thank you for the quick response. If you don't mind, there are a few other things I'm not sure of as well. Perhaps they are seemingly basic to you, but, how exactly did Christ die for "us"? Seeing as how all this supposedly occured before my birth, I have a hard time seeing how it relates to me.


Honora said...

Beautiful. The most valuable words He can 'hear' from us in exile, as we keep our bleeding eyes on His, are, "I opt to love." It echoes His Gethsemane's, "Not my will, but Thine." It is the heart of fiat. It is the heart of the Church.

And it is total mystery to too many.

God love you, I'll be praying that the Holy Spirit gives you words which implant like conception.

Abbot Joseph said...

The reason one can love even killers is that the grace to do so is given by Christ who said, "Love your enemies." He never said we have to have affectionate feelings for them. This is what He means: "do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you" (Lk 6:27-28). To love is to will the good of the other, ultimately to will their salvation. Jesus loved by saying, "Father, forgive them..." and St Stephen loved by saying, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." Love is a grace-assisted choice, not only to be like Christ, but to be open to let Him love through us, as only He can.

Gregaria said...

Hi Drusilla,

Thank you so much for these two posts. I'd never thought about Job in that way and found it incredibly humbling to put myself in Job's place and realize that I'm like that.

I also appreciate you sharing your sufferings. I'm sorry you've gotten a bit of flack for the way you've dealt with them.

Along the same lines, there's an article in Dappled Things Magazine (the Summer 2006 on-line edition) by Tonita Helton who was raped and found healing through forgiveness just as you seem to have done. Its very similar, very well written and it might help you back up some of what you are saying about forgiveness, healing and growing closer to God through suffering. Incidentally, she also wrote an article in the previous edition about the sufferings of her mother. The article is called, "In the Darkest Hours, Joy." Both are highly recommended.

God bless you! And thanks again.

Mahsheed said...

Hi Drusilla,

Your writings are very beautiful. Can I also link to your posts on forgiveness?

You haven't posted part II yet, but I am interested because I am looking for posts that show what it means to be Christian. Christian forgiveness is unique to Christianity as is the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins.

Just so you know, my website is geared towards a Muslim viewership as I am an ex-Muslim.


Anonymous said...

You and Jesus may forgive those callous fellows, but if I've understood his book correctly, God Yahweh is going to toast their souls over and over in his Hell. You may then love them a little better with some butter and jam.

Joatmoaf said...

Wow! A beautiful testament of your faith.
The Way to Salvation can only be found through Christ.
After the fall of the Soviet Union I once saw a former Russian general and KGB officer give a testimony of his salvation at a church in Indiana.
Each individual who comes to Christ does so through different paths and although they usually involve tragedy they always involve forgiveness.
The one thing many of us forget is that forgiveness also applies to us.
If God has forgiven us then we should also forgive ourselves.

Here's another testament to faith in Christ.
One which is closer to your experience Masheed.