Earlier in the week, Boston could not shake the heavy fog that lay heavy in the air, covering the tops of buildings like thick grey smoke. It dulled my mind and all I seemed able to do was trudge through life.
How long will this fog go on, I wondered silently, the weather deeply embedded in my psyche.
Even as the sunshine came through in all its blue-skied glory, the fog inside stayed.
How long O Lord? How long will tragedy break us? How long will we shed tears over those we love? How long will those who perpetrate evil continue? How long?
I was deep in inner fog as I walked from work to the subway last night. The station was crowded as I rounded the corner to catch my train. But there to the side lay a woman on the floor. She had just fallen and another woman was crouched beside her. I stopped, and a couple of us helped the woman up. She was small and elderly, wearing a heavy jacket along with the dazed look that comes with a fall. She spoke no English, and as we helped her to a seat, we were not sure if we should call an ambulance or just wait.
She made it clear that she wanted to catch the next train, so we helped her across the gap and onto an incoming train. As we were sitting with her and attempting to communicate, we discovered that both the woman who had fallen and the initial helper spoke Mandarin. She offered to walk the woman to her apartment building, and the last I saw of them they were slowly walking toward the exit, talking with their heads bent close together.
Something about the entire event felt so incomparably sad and hopeful. Like the Psalmist, who in one breath says how long, and in the next proclaims hope. How long will we slip and fall? How long will we feel the pain of loss and betrayal? How long will we pray for healing?
And yet – there is hope. There is hope in strangers and passers by; there is hope through a phone call to a friend; there is hope in the messy emotions of the Psalms. There is hope in sunshine after fog; hope in pregnancy after miscarriage, hope in restoration after betrayal. And when there is not sunshine, when new life does not come, when restoration is not realized? There is still unreasonable, glorious hope.
As long as Good Friday gives way to Great and Holy Saturday. As long as Great and Holy Saturday prepares the way for the light of Pascha. As long as there is life, there is still hope.
“How Long, Lord? …. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”*
He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” Aeschylus
*From Psalm 13