I light a candle for Paris.
There, alone in the solemnity of a local cathedral, my soul swells with vaulted ceilings, shatters like bits of light filtered through stained glass. The snap of the lighter cracks vast silence across tiled floors, still and waiting.
And I pray.
And the heart of Someone from two millennium ago pulses through my being. He stands on a hill, looking out over a vast sprawling city. He weeps. Jesus, longing for the peace of Jerusalem, grieving cracks of hemorrhaging un-peace.
I think of an opal, dense with fissures. An opal diffracting light. I think of our broken streets, societies increasingly bound by fear. Grooves, worn into canyons with every new report of horror. From a gunman in my own hometown to terrorist slaughters in other cities and across the world.
Would we dare to become an opal?
I sit with my young son, an impromptu conversation. We thrash through crashing waves of current events, and suddenly plunge to unexpected depths. He is only fifteen.
Quietly, with burning intensity, he says, yes, he has pondered what he would do if he cowered with a crowd and a gunman queried if any follow Jesus. He would stand, he says, with conviction.
My heart aches for one so tender and young to even know this situation exists, to understand the consequences for those who have gone before, for those who breathe no more.
“I am not afraid to die,” he says.
And there, in a gaping wound where a fifteen year old thinks about such things, the opal glimmers. There, power swells from flames and lifts the wings.
In other corners of the world, I’ve stood face to face with people who are not afraid to die. They are persecuted and oppressed. They say things like this: “Every day, we pray for our people and the authorities, too. They do not know what they do. They need the Light. We always choose the solution ‘conquer them with love’.”
If we are not afraid to live and love as wildly as fire rages, if we are not afraid to die loving, then we soar high above anything this world can do to us: unconquerable.
Here, in these cracks, terror only amplifies our light.