A year ago, I sat with a friend in her living room watching the news of Robin Williams’ suicide. His story, however tragic and heavy, was balanced by the comfort distance provides. These all too familiar Hollywood stories are dissected a million ways until a fresher calamity steals the airtime. My heart was bothered, but not broken.
Tonight, one year later, the comfortable distance has evaporated, leaving depravity and pain to confront me just yards away.
I can hear the wailing. Her cries slice the silence of this August night wide open.
She is mourning her baby boy with a cry so loud and deep it must have formed in her bones, shattering each one as it escaped. I can barely stomach it.
The sound stops our conversation mid sentence. My blank, startled look seems to signal my mom into action.
She begins to pray for comfort.
The funeral was today. Cars come and go. Too many to count, their headlights are a steady, welcome invasion of light into thick, rural darkness.
They’ve come for a boy.
He was the little boy awaiting the bus when I’d come home from college. He grew into the skater boy with the half pipe out back. He was the smart boy that rebuilt computers, and the music boy with the band that practiced too late.
Tormented. Tortured. He was the boy next door.
Tonight there are no answers. We want to rationalize and reason to have something to maneuver around- something to give us a feeling of prevention and control in our own lives and families. Maybe it was the parenting, the music, or the peers…
Explanations give us formulas to follow and teaching points to ponder.
But people aren’t lessons, they are lives.
Darkness moves across countries, cultures, and social classes like an army on ruthless mission: to saturate the country clubs of America, the slums of Cambodia, your street, and my childhood neighbor with hopelessness.
Jesus came, not for the smug, but for the sick. He came for the poor in spirit who know they are in need, and He is seen in those who aren’t afraid to confront the darkness with the light of Love. He becomes known to the broken through those willing to break.
Break my heart for what breaks Yours: lovely lyrics; yet terrifying prayer.
I want to break for those around the globe, and for those around the fence. That’s the message of Alan’s death for me.
The next year will be filled with stories of heartache and hope. You and I have the same invitation to love well, listen closely, quiet the advice, and just hurt deeply alongside souls shrouded in darkness, in need of our light.
You may not be able to jump on the plane, but you can jump the fence.