Prayer and the inconsolable



Not all stories can be told. Or rather we don’t always have the strength to hear them. They form black and tiny blocks in which it seems impossible to us to enter. One fears at the same time to profane something, to be an intruder and a voyeur, or to be contaminated by their darkness, and to feel so weak, so helpless. I have always thought that at that moment of helplessness and fear before the event of the world, prayer was perhaps the only word possible. We must remember the power of contemplation of prayer, when we no longer have the words to respond to what overwhelms us, nor the courage to face the darkness that terrifies us. I use the word contemplation because prayer is often this intimate exercise of patience and vision before the evil that paralyzes us.

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And this week, I remained silent, as in an abyss, before a very brief piece of news, swallowed up in the life of the world. Oh Lord, you have to imagine a November night, cold and dark, in a small village of 150 souls, unknown to me until this date, the night of November 18 to 19, Corcondray in the Doubs. I must make the effort to see with you the ditch in which two bodies were discovered that night, that of a four-year-old child, dying, and that of his mother. Which was suspected of having strangled her son. She was incoherent and lost, and in her madness claimed to have killed her son “because he was the devil”. We had to commit him to the hospital. Then she was taken into custody, in January, a few weeks ago. She admitted her crime and was taken into custody.

I wanted to pray to save this story from its own inhumanity. I do not mean that there was no love between this mother and her son. She will have loved him and will have let herself be overwhelmed by the pain of loving. I would like, Lord, at all costs to assume love at all costs. Even if it means acknowledging his downfall. But no. This duty to love sometimes makes the free presence of love between us so difficult. I think our attachment to loving and being loved is sometimes accompanied by the horror we have of it, when we feel persecuted by the duty to love. The overly perfect constructions of love resemble tiny imaginary huts erected during childhood and in which we shelter as much the hope of being protected there as the fear of being locked up there forever.

When love encloses us, it then looks like evil. Faced with this mother and her son, I would like to think of a possible consolation. But prayer leads me to question myself. And if the real question, the real courage to love here was to find in us the forces to face something inconsolable? Not to rush into the shelter of consolation, but to hold on in the night of the inconsolable, to take the time to carry within me the mute complaint of innocence like that, impossible, of crime. I am at the foot of the wall to be broken through prayer. In front of Corcondray’s mother and child.

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I know, through prayer, that it is not for me to respond to the evil committed and the desolation of love. I understand, through prayer, that only an infinite love can still come to the rescue of our lack and our pain of loving. That only this infinite love can respond to the inconsolability of our human lives, and because it is infinite, come to lodge in the narrowness of an earthly ditch. I understand that it is up to me, through prayer, to hold deep within me and my stammering humanity the dignity of human complaint before the inconsolable. For her to be heard. From highest to lowest.

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