Many months ago, Emily Wierenga wrote about someone she had passed on the street, a person who had been attempting to collect money in a bowl, or a cap. She wrote: “i wondered at the empty.” From the moment I read that line to this, I’ve been a faithful reader of Emily’s beautiful words, and I’ve learned to trust the heart behind them.
If you’ve ever watched Emily on video, you know what I mean when I say: she looks out of wide, searching eyes and speaks carefully, quietly, solemnly, with the bells of winged creatures. She’s seen and suffered much, but she’ll not have her hurt wasted, and—for the sake of good, and God—Emily speaks, writes, paints, parents, and creates a community of imperfect prose. (Please visit her beautiful gathering place, if you haven’t, already!)
I want, most, to see Emily tip her head back and laugh, so I think I’ll start praying she’ll coordinate a writers’ retreat and invite me to attend. In the meantime, I asked if she might write something to be shared in my space, and she blessed me tremendously in sending the following (Thank you, Emily!):
On how I know God hates suffering
It was university and we were in chapel, singing, when the hymn broke in two with the towers and the news camera, all shaky as my knees and the other students standing as I folded and cried. This Canadian girl.
“I see the world in color and light and shapes” I tell my friend and I feel it, the world, all joy or sad and nothing in between, for art is feeling put to canvas, and I am canvas. And there on the carpet I wept.
For the parents in the tower who’d been counting the hours until child’s arms flung about them, for the child whose birthday it was and whose parent wouldn’t be there, for the man practicing the proposal he’d give his sweetheart, for the woman practicing the apology she’d give her man, for the smash and grey of plane into walls and skin and photograph.
For the men in the planes smashing grey and wall and skin and the lies they lived and the life they left: with its olive groves and singing bells and the call to prayer and the humble laying down of mat and the flat roofs and the flat bread, all for a dead man’s promise.
But more… I fell and I wept for something divine ripping, for this was more than a war on America and would be more than a war on terror, it was a war on soul. And God was crying through me, on the carpet in chapel.
I’ve only cried one other time like this, and it was on a hill outside of school. I’d seen a video of Calcutta, of Mother Theresa and she was all bent in kindness and the children, dying, and something divine ripped then too, and I ran outside and lay on the grass and wept.
It’s a kind of gasping, as though God can’t cry himself, and needs to find a human to feel through, and he used me, and I felt the whole of his heart pounding. So much love, too much to contain and all of heaven shaking for this world is not right. This suffering is not right. And God will make it right… one day.
But for now, he weeps.