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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Countless Calvaries

I was just reading Bruce Grobelaar's account of the event of that day, 25 years ago, at Hillsborough. And as so often happens when reading the story, ended up with tears in my eyes. Tears at the futility - people who have died without seeing justice for their family. Children who never came home. Others who grow up without their parents. And yes, anger that the responsibility for what happened has been evaded so long.

And this morning, the grief and desolation of the Korean ferry sinking reaches us. And I pray for the parents who, terrified with grief, wait for news of their children. For lovers who are praying for loved ones. For those who may still be trapped and alive. That many can still be rescued.

Thomas Hardy's poem, "Unkept Good Fridays" tells of all the other people whose Passions the world ignores, while paying great attention to Jesus's. I suspect old Tommy H, at 86 years of age, had given up caring if people got upset, and just wanted to rattle a stick in some Christians' cages.

But he had a point. We don't mark all the futile, tragic, pointless and/or heroic deaths. In one sense we can't. This old and pock-marked world has too many deaths, too much senselessness, too deep a well of personal and tragedy. We would mourn somebody every minute of every day, if we were to try. Every day - every second - would be another Good Friday.

If only, I might say. If only there was a way of taking one cruel death - one human being cut off in the prime of life - at the height of all human powers. One human being who could encapsulate all those innocent people who suffer - one representative of the wasted youth and loss of dignity that covers this planet from a football field in Sheffield to the muddy fields of the Somme, from the slaughter of natives of America to the deaths of slaves, to the people of Hiroshima and the casked remains of the people of Pompeii - and every other unminded Good Friday in between.

If we could take just the one representative of all this, and hold that person up for all to see. And - just for the fun of it, and to prove our point - if we could make God feel the pain and the waste that he's left us to. If we could get him to share in it all. And mark that one event, and then remember that it's not just a one off, it's a focus, a singularity, a distillation of every senseless loss that's ever happened. And that through it, we expect God to share in what we know, too.

If only.

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