Pathetic fallacy is when the weather in a story reflects the mood. Dickens does it well in great expectations according to my GCSE memories. Sometimes the weather shows up for us. In hard times it can give us foggy landscapes, wild gales battering waves against a headland, lashing rain in the night.
Sometimes though the weather pays no attention. Frankly I’m deeply grateful that the last few weeks of lockdown have brought us sunny day after sunny day. The opposite of the pain in this world right now.
It makes it harder to remember the awfulness though. I’m sitting on the bench outside our house, the wood pigeons have started their late afternoon cooing, primroses, forget-me-nots, daisies and dandelions litter our front lawn, blazing colour. There is a gentle breeze cooling my skin. The sky is blue. There are hums of noise in the background but mostly this feels like a Sunday afternoon in the 80s. Quiet. Different. Beautiful. Endless.
It is this beauty in front of me which makes it so hard to remember the darkness. I’ve felt this way before. Way back in time I led summer teams of students in Eastern Europe, teaching English and Jesus. I spent lots of time in Poland where I had the strange privilege of visiting Auschwitz twice. Both times I felt so conflicted inside. Here was a place where horrendous things had happened and yet the grass was green. The sun shone. The birds sang. How could they? Why didn’t they stop in horror like all of us who visited? Why weren’t they too silenced by the darkness of human hearts?
I don’t understand how the two go together. That as I sit here I know hospitals are overflowing. People are dying without their loved ones. People are lonely and isolated. People are scared for their lives as domestic violence spikes in a terrifying manner. And still those birds sing.
And then I think I come to know some thing which might help in the search for why.
Without all this beauty pointing us beyond, lifting us to bigger things, dropping hope into our laps, I think we might go mad. If all the sadness was reflected in the natural world all the time I think we would sink never to rise again.
But the beauty is here. In the despair. In the questions. In the pain. The beauty is here and hope comes to us and whispers of bigger realities and bigger love. The stuff that will help us through these tired days. The stuff that will help us press through fear to love. There is such beauty in these strange troubled filled days. And I think we need it.
It’s Easter Saturday and I wonder if the sun shone all those years ago on that silent day of rest. Of quiet sorrow and sadness. I wonder if the aching beauty of creation confused Jesus’ friends emotions as much as they are confusing mine. I wonder how they sat with the pain.
I like this silent empty day, probably because I know the end of the story. There are many stories going on right now that none of us know the end of. Today, in all it’s confusing silent beauteous pain,is for those stories.