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Resilient Beauty

By Mike Mccauley on
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May 12 in Musings
I mentioned a novel by Steven Galloway called The Cellist of Sarajevo in a sermon a few weeks ago. It is based on a true story which occurred during the Bosnian War of the 1990’s. Unfortunately, many of us barely remember that war, which happened after the dismantling of Yugoslavia. It was awful. Any war is terrible, but this one included the killing of thousands of civilians, mass rapes and pillaging that went unchecked, ethnic cleansing and concentration camps. It was confusing because of the many different ethnicities and religious groups involved, and it nearly destroyed the capital city of Sarajevo. Just 6 years earlier, Sarajevo had sparkled brilliantly as the host of the 1986 winter Olympics.

As Sarajevo was under a very long siege by the Serbs, a mortar shell lobbed from outside the city struck a group of people standing in line to get bread. Twenty-two people from the neighborhood were instantly killed.  The next day, a local musician took his cello and a stool, plopped it down next to the crater, and played an adagio-  a slow, lovely musical piece. He risked it despite the sniper fire and danger all around. It was an answer to all the death and despair- beauty and respect.  And he did it the next day and the next and the next, for 22 days, one for each person killed.  I interpreted his actions as saying that the influence of evil and darkness could not pull people away from being human beings. That the senseless, inhuman acts of some people would not diminish all human beings made in God’s image. Beautiful.

We are pulled every day to participate in things which make us smaller people. Evil and darkness are everywhere, tempting us to live for ourselves first, to treat others as less than humans, to participate in injustices present in our social systems. It’s no wonder that The Message version of the Lord’s Prayer ends with “keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil (Luke 11:4).”  Then along comes Jesus who says “I’ll drink the cup,” and absorbs into himself THE darkness and OUR darkness. We are freed to be larger people, not smaller. We are free to watch out for others and live sacrificially. We may not play the cello at the edge of bomb craters, but we can insist that when darkness shows its head, the beauty God built into life and people need not disappear. It can actually shine even more. Beautiful.
                See you soon,
                            Pastor Dan     

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