Massacre of Innocents

Snow Hole by Alison Scott
A dream awoke me. A child lying cruciform, dead on the ground. Oh, I thought again--the massacre, the innocents. Wasn't the news horrific? John and I spoke of it again this morning before prayer, the paradox of life on earth, the paradox of Christmas when the divine child was born and the Bethlehem infants were slaughtered. Novelist, Jose Saramago, in his THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, imagines that both Joseph and Jesus suffered their entire lives over the death of those children. The children died; they survived. And history played itself out in the crux of that paradox.

We lit the candles for morning prayer. The reading from Isaiah brought the voices of the children, crying out to us:

From deep in the earth you shall speak;
From low in the dust your words will come;
Your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost,
And your speech shall whisper from out of the dust. (IS.29:7-8)

We closed our eyes in contemplation. My heart burned. Time disappeared. When I opened my eyes again, snow was falling. Immediately came the words of Sarah, Job's wife in the play J.B. by Archibald MacLeish:

Cry out for justice and the stars 
Will stare until your eyes sting.Weep,
Enormous winds will thrash the water.
Cry in sleep for your lost children,
Snow will fall...
                         Snow will fall...

This verse has accompanied me since 1962 when I first saw and then read the play. It has taken me through some of the most painful of times--personal and in world affairs. Those last two lines have seemed the key when no answers are available. Here's how they sound to me: Snow will fall--there is no answer, there is the world being as it is. And Snow will fall--Ah, and despite it all, beauty remains and "love among the ruins" as another wordsmith reminds. So many voices in my mind today. Not least of which is my dear Emily Dickinson and her poem that when sung almost explodes my heart:

There came a Wind like a Bugle--
It quivered through the Grass
And a Green Chill upon the Heat
So ominous did pass--

We barred the Windows and the Doors
As from an Emerald Ghost--
The Doom's electric Moccasin
That very instant passed--

On a strange Mob of panting Trees
And Fences fled away--
And Rivers where the Houses ran
Those looked that lived--that Day--
The Bell within the steeple wild
The flying tidings told--
How much can come
And much can go,--

And yet abide the World!
And yet abide the World!
And yet abide the World!

And yet abide the World!


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