It was on Saturday evening that I realized my heart was broken. Sounds like the first line of a novel. It would be so easy to make this post fiction. Instead of face the reality. One so stark I’m not even sure as I write this where this post is going.
My heart is broken because there’s never going to be even the slightest inquiry into the “torture” – a depravity called by so many euphemisms, instead of its truthful name. But even worse my heart is broken by the centuries and the thousands of centuries of equal inhumanity to man. The punishment of so many innocents. The going to war and justification of killing and torture and rape and pillage by so-called “virtues” as if using words could ever make this ok. My heart is breaking, not just because of these particular tortures and wars, but also because I can look into myself and see the same potentials, the same anger, the same kinds of justifications within my own torn and divided heart.
My heart is broken because we’re never really going to get health care like we really need health care. Health care for all – where the money goes for “care” and not for corporate welfare. But even worse my broken heart cries out for the fact of ill health itself. For sickness and disability and dying alone or unloved or on battlefields or other places of carnage, so different from medical settings where lives are valued to such extremes that the unwell are inflicted with “treatments” that make them suffer all the more. It’s the pain of life leading to death and the path along that strewn with illness and suffering. And the inability to ultimately alleviate these truths from my mind.
My heart is broken because national ideals and religious ideals are too often just words and pageantry. Because greed is so rampant. And because people have figured out ever better ways to disguise that and package products and ideals and sell them. For riches. For power. And I can see those same pulls contending within my own heart – so I can’t cast stones or I’d have to cast them at myself.
I’m trying to rise above all this. I think of the Buddha, raised in a comfortable palace, protected from all by enjoyment, ultimately shocked when he ventured out and saw sickness and death and suffering. It wasn’t that he didn’t care to try and alleviate them. But he saw them as the human condition and he set out to try and find release from the fears and the wishes that prompt our inner suffering, as well as from the negative feelings like anger or resentment or revenge which ravage the world around us when they are unleashed by you or me or those we oppose. And then to save all beings through sharing that realization.
Jesus was murdered for trying to get people to care about each other. I think of him now as the Man of the Broken Heart, the Man of Sorrows so many have called him. A man who died for Love. And I take comfort in sharing that Broken Heart.
There’s a line from one of the psalms that says “a heart broken and crushed, oh, God you will not spurn.” I guess I’ve arrived there. Andre Louf calls that a place of true humility. A place where you admit your total powerlessness. Your brokenness. Failed ideals. Failed efforts to live up to them yourself. A place where you look around at the rubble of what you’ve tried to do and failed to do. How all of us fail.
So I’m not looking for sympathy. I hope you understand that. There are no words of comfort that have not been said before. For the Man of Sorrows, the Man of the Broken Heart, even the Buddha, they’ve been there too. And the psalmist, the psalmist has been there. A condition of complete simplicity (Costing not less than everything) as TS Eliot describes it. Followed by the comforting words of Julian of Norwich that “all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well” – but that is on a spiritual plane: When the tongues of flame are infolded / Into the crowned knot of fire / And the fire and the rose are one. (whatever that means… it can’t be easy!)
Oh, yes, stilli… I know your sense of alienation…