Believe in Miracles and Cures and Healing Wells

December 27, 2011

Believe in Miracles and Cures and Healing Wells

I know that the heart of God is the first to break.  I am so saddened by two news stories, in particular, that happened this Christmas:  the drowning of scores of Haitians off the coast of Cuba and the killing of over thirty pilgrims at mass on Christmas Day in Nigeria.

It is unacceptable that at least 38 Haitians have drowned somewhere near Cuba – the only explanation that they were in search of a better life – an escape from the day to day misery of their lives in Haiti.  We have to believe that we can do better than this.  Simply, we must do better.

The Muslim / Catholic religious violence in Nigeria is equally unacceptable.  While Muslim extremists claimed responsibility for yesterday’s killings, both sides fuel the conflict.  I remember a priest in my first graduate program describing his homeland in northern Nigeria as “being littered with mosques.”  I tell this not to demonize this particular priest, or Catholics in general, but to illustrate that there is intolerance and hatred on both sides of this conflict.    We can do better.  In the name of God, we must do better.

So where does this leave us?  Hopeless?  Discouraged?  Powerless?

I first read part of the following poem by Seamus Heaney in an essay written shortly after 9/11 by John Paul Lederach:  “The Challenges of Terror.”   The second time I heard this poem was recently, at the end of a study tour to Northern Ireland with 16 Haitians and myself.  My friend Sean read the poem in its entirely.  I post it here for you.


Human beings suffer,
they torture one another,
they get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
can fully right a wrong
inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
faints at the funeral home

History says, Don’t hope
on this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
the longed for tidal wave
of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
on the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
and cures and healing wells.

Call the miracle self-healing:
The utter self-revealing
double-take of feeling.
if there’s fire on the mountain
or lightning and storm
and a god speaks from the sky.

That means someone is hearing
the outcry and the birth-cry
of new life at its term.

Seamus Heaney,
The Cure at Troy


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