Sin

May 5, 2015

As Baltimore explodes, crying alone in my car, I recall Thanksgiving 2012.

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unsignificantly/ off the coast/ there was

a splash quite unnoticed/ this was/ Icarus drowning

So ends William Carlos Williams’ poem, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, inspired by Pieter Brueghel’s painting of the same name.

(When disaster strikes, not everyone is paying attention.)

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Every now and again, something captures the public imagination.

Malala Yousafzai. Etan Patz. Freddie Gray.

A thousand Icarus’ fall from the sky, splash unseen, and then: Malala Yousafzai. Etan Patz. Freddie Gray.

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Condemning authoritarian police procedures in neighborhoods of color and poverty has become the flavor of the day. Not a bad thing—a wrong well worth righting. Those at it for years now have a wind at their backs. It’s about time.

Not a bad thing… but still. Something does not sit easy with me.

(Caring because we care is one thing. Caring, and caring loudly, to deflect any trace of implicit complicity for being where we are—is another.)

I see too much hypocrisy.

“The lady doth protest too much methinks.” (Shakespeare)

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The farmer. The shepherd. The fisherman. The sailor. Going about their business, Icarus noticed or not.

It just is.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

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Elisif made her way to New York City to be with family, running a gauntlet of Holiday public transportation nightmares. A grand family gathering, dozens in the room, little cousins squealing, and that look on Elisif’s face: “too much.”

Her alone, mental disturbance inflamed.

Icarus falling.

The farmer. The shepherd. The fisherman. The sailor. Going about our business.

Icarus drowning.

(Why did I not notice? What could I have done? How could I be so limited?)

*****

It just is.

“I love your majesty according to my bond, no more nor less.”

Honest words from Cordelia in King Lear (Shakespeare again).

Her truth: an admitted limitation. Her courage: an admitted limitation. Her sin: an admitted limitation.

It just is.

unsignificantly/ off the coast/ there was

a splash quite unnoticed/ this was/ Icarus drowning

*****

As Baltimore explodes, crying alone in my car, I seek forgiveness for sin.

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