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Suns & Shields

By Rachelle Hamlin

Read more of Rachelle's editorials:  Suns & Shields Index page

When Bombs Go Off

By: Rachelle Hamlin

Fort Fairfield Journal, May 13, 2015

At times in our life, something changes our little world in epic proportions. This happens to us all! I see it in writing; I hear it in the life stories of friends; I have experienced it many times, including last week. Without warning the first bomb went off. Then it was as if heaven was cluster bombing my placid existence irrevocably.

I remember back when my best friend was buying my house and I was almost done selling the last thing before my bed. We were closing Friday and they had insisted I be out at closing with all my personal property gone. I'd converted everything into cash so I could move to Winnipeg. On Wednesday I got the call. Her lender was running a scam company; authorities shut them down and the deal was off. This is what I call a bomb; an invisible, sudden explosion that shatters all preconceptions in our orderly, simple brains. It calls for nothing less than sweeping up the pieces that still mean something and facing reconstruction, big time.

Allow me to make an observation here. I have noticed that if a visible thing blows up and causes chaos and loss, it gets a lot of attention, love and understanding. Sometimes it even cements communities in a way impossible without the loss. What I am saying is that when you think about it, a bomb blast has both negative and positive consequences.

You know that from experience if you stop to think about it. But one thing about the invisible bomb blasts: you are the only one who feels and sees the effects of most blasts. These kind don't cement you with your community of friends and family principally because they cannot see your inner world; that private place you built so carefully lying in your mind now shattered into insignificant bits glittering in heartless sunshine.

This time the bombing raid happened and its unplanned consequences seem as if they are happening to someone I used to know. Now, that someone I used to know is actually me, but somehow she fell into the dead and gone category. I cried for her, but she didn't answer. Instead, I was there, a worker sweeping up pieces of sharp and cutting things and sending them to the local waste station. There is comfort in knowing that I still have a life. I can use it to make things better.

Because of technology those of us who want to can witness the sufferings of other people, people hit by physical bombs, missing limbs, with decimated hopes and unutterable losses. We witness, we read, we learn, we commiserate and we pray. What else can we do? Sometimes it is possible to reach into those situations in some tangible way. That is all. We cannot live through what is portioned out to another person. But when it's our bomb, our misery, our challenge, that is when we have everything to do with the outcome.

Have you considered God's servant, Job? Got up as usual, enjoying the good life of a man wealthy and prominent in his community but that was the day he got cluster bombed. Bandits carried off all his oxen and donkeys. Fire burnt his shepherds and sheep. His camel drivers were killed by bandits and every camel was stolen. All his children were partying at the eldest brother's house and it was struck by a tornado. Neither house nor children survived.

I totally love his response! “I came from the womb naked; I'll return from where I came naked. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

This wasn't the end of the bombing though. The next one was a direct hit on Job. Shingle-like sores appeared on him, scalp to footpads. This was when his wife broke, but Job told her, “If we accept good from God, shall we not accept evil?” Now that is a good question.

She had liked the good life of a man wealthy and prominent in his community. She'd known all the perks. Now there were no perks. She was a perk addict! But Job had something that everyone needs, integrity before God. This doesn't mean that Job did not suffer. For seven days and seven nights three close friends sat with Job. He couldn't even speak. The Bible records “they saw that his suffering was very great.” His attitude made all the difference. Did he add hating God to the sum total of his sufferings? No, that would have been self-inflicted pain and clearly Job was not a masochist.

My mother had a simple formula for achieving Job-like serenity. “Honey,” she would say, “Never cry over spilled milk.” I heard that at her knee, even when I didn't have a clue what she was trying to teach me. Yet the first thing out of my mouth when the first bomb hit last week was “I'm not going to cry over spilled milk.”

I am still pushing my way through painful days, picking at the debris, wondering if there will be another air-raid. But this morning when I woke up after a long dream, the fragment I last picked up on was me, singing a song whose last words were “Blessed be God who carries it all.” This put it all in such sweeping perspective. He is carrying me.



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