(Bill and I recently saw the movie GOSNELL — The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer. I wrote the following on May 13, 2013, when he was found guilty. I continue to desire to never stay silent when my voice can make a difference.)
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ~~ Elie Wiesel
The tall grass in our neighbors’ pasture dances. Silently. It looks like waves rolling upon a sea of green. Ours had, too — until we cut it down. Just today. This morning, in fact — a sea of green outside my window. By mid-day, it was gone. Now I have to look beyond — to someone else’s pasture. The grass appears greener… longer. More lovely.
I had worried when I heard that today was the day to cut the grass for hay. It’s Spring. Animals build nests in the tall grass. Rabbits. Various birds. Fowl. Silly as it may sound, I fretted about this — but had no control to stop the inevitable. “It must be done,” I was told. Our animals need hay, after all. The cutting promotes life. Right? I couldn’t argue. Still, I worried.
And then I saw our dogs. They were in the pasture — sniffing around the grass cut low. They lingered too long. Yes, they’d found something to eat. They’re carnivores. I couldn’t blame them. But I sent my husband to follow. To see what it was they’d found. And my fears were realized. Feathers. The remnants of eggs — no telling how many. Our dogs, gentle pets, had been there awhile and had likely devoured much of the evidence. My heart was broken.
I’ve been watching, for weeks now, a pair of ducks. Male and female. Had seen them meandering in the vicinity of the pasture’s edge — near our gazebo, a place we’d found shelter on many occasions. Like an old couple, waddling together. I knew somewhere, close by, there was a nest. Each day, I watched from my upstairs window — looking for the pair… usually only seeing the male. The female was somewhere. “Likely on her nest,” I’d often thought to myself. Soon… soon there would be ducklings.
And I was anxious, too, about the safety of these little ones — once they came. They’d have to make their way, no doubt, to our pond. Test their water-proof feathers and their webbed feet. Follow their Momma. I was excited for that day — the day I’d see them on the water. A line of duckings showing off. I would applaud. And I knew God would too. I think such things matter to His Creator’s heart.
“I did that!” Perhaps the angels, too, would smile.
Then today — dogs in pasture. My keen awareness, looking out for all life on Selah Farm. And then, the truth — a nest…
And death, eminent.
Feathers and a few broken shells — cocoons for ducklings. Dogs too curious. Hungry.
I felt sick. Feel sick still — all these hours later.
And I’m asking, “Why? Why did they have to die?” I’m wondering, too — Did the mother duck fly away in time. Is she mourning even now? All that work. Diligence. The nest-building. The waiting. The waiting.
And for what? This?
Then, grief over ducklings interrupted. And I listen with my heart as I’ve listened time and time and time again… This selah. I pause. Focus…
“My heart, too, is broken. Little ones I knew and loved — called by name… they, too, are gone. Their lives disrupted. Demolished. Destroyed. I weep for them as you weep for ducklings. Stop –and weep for them. Speak up for them. Do not remain silent. And allow this painful (Yes, it’s painful!) lesson to teach you more of Me… My pain. Yes, your tears — for lost life up close, but even more importantly, for children — are not unseen. Your cries do not go unheard. I see. I hear. And I, too, grieve. This lesson — yes, even this — teaches you more of My heart.”
Yes, hearing His voice puts things in perspective. And I’m convicted. I read —
“For You created my inmost being, You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be” (Ps. 139:13-16).
Gosnell — a murderer. Convicted of killing three babies. Viable life. Precious life — if not to earthly mothers, at least to a Heavenly Father. Even writing this man’s name grips me. I feel, momentarily, paralyzed. The heinous crimes… the unspeakable acts. Perhaps I’m too much a coward. Too afraid to have my heart broken with details. I haven’t allowed myself (for better or for worse) to follow the stories in depth. My heart for children… my belief in the sanctity of life — perhaps such has caused me to hide. Close my ears. Close my eyes. Close my heart to truth that threatens to break me.
But I cannot remain silent. Not after a sea of rolling green ceased to dance today, at least in my pasture. I don’t want to look beyond my life to another’s and get lost in the day-dream of dance. I want to be brave enough. Now. Courageous enough to say I’m going to start with what’s right here. At home. My home. The injustices that are right before my eyes. Within ear-shot.
I want to hurt when Jesus hurts — because I see as He sees. Hear as He hears. Feel as He feels. I want to love the way He loves. And if it means I die (figuratively or literally) as He died — with passion fueled by that love — then so be it.
I will not remain silent.
Such would be a calamity, at least to my very own soul.
“He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark” (Ps. 91:4).
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).