Hiroshima Day 2014


I awoke at 5 and knelt in the darkness to pray. I seemed to see God in the likeness of an old man in a white robe, seated on a featureless white surface, turned away from me. Wordlessly I begged Him not to hide His face from me. He turned it toward me and all the skin and hair had been burned off by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My people had done this to Him. Inasmuch as we’d done it to our neighbors in these two cities, we’d done it to our God, our Source and Refuge. And by “my people” I understood not “the people of the United States” but all the people with hearts and minds like mine, a whole world of revenge-takers, scapegoaters, finger-pointers, grudge-holders and preemptive-strikers: the fallen, in short: the fallen, fear-dominated and ignorant, the projectors of what they despise in themselves onto other people. And now these are also the guilty before God, who the more desperately want to disbelieve in God the more faces they’ve burned off their neighbors and their neighbors’ children in their unspeakable acts of war: they and their proxies in military uniform, they and their proxies in the seats of government, they and their proxies in “defense” industries, which since our initiating wars of choice can no longer be called that. Did I say “they?” I mean “we,” because I too have worn a military uniform, financed nuclear weapons, napalm and white phosphorus with my taxes, voted a wartime commander-in-chief into office, had my retirement funds grow unscreened, and, more to the point, wished cruel and humiliating deaths on others.
O my God! How can I repent deeply enough to help my people repent? Can a man washed clean walk among the defiled, imparting Your cleanness as he goes and not merely taking on his companions’ dirt? Can a soul put her heart altogether into Your holy heart but leave her face and feet among her fellow guilty? Can she be made pure enough to convince those around her that You are a God that forgives everything? Why are my eyes still dry on this day, and my bones not on fire, having seen Your face with the skin burned away?


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2 Responses to “Hiroshima Day 2014”

  1. treegestalt Says:

    John, John! So we neither of us can truly say, “Them bad! Me good!” And that, I think, is the meaning of “repentance” — “to go beyond the mind that you have” [sayeth Borg] and find yourself in a mind that doesn’t need to cause unnecessary suffering, or pretend it hasn’t caused suffering, or pretend that we have a note from our Mommy making our misdeeds necessary & good.

    Go and sin no more!… Um, next time we catch ourselves in some sin or other, let’s just say “Ooops,” okay? And see what The Old Man says about how to make it better?

  2. John Edminster Says:

    I think we’re saying the same thing, Forrest, except that, from the bottom of my heart, I also pray to be enabled to repent deeply enough, intensely enough, wildly enough, to make my repentance contagious, so that all my fellow scapegoaters and grudge-holders around me join me in saying, “Why are we doing this? Let’s forgive everyone everything, and even thank them for making evident the toxins we hold in *our own* hearts.” It’s one step beyond just saying “oops,” it’s asking the Old Man to inspire the rest of the world to say “oops” along with us.

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