A Prayer for Martin Cobb, His Sister, All Who Love Them, and for the Abducted School Girls in Nigeria
“Richmond, Va. — The family of an 8-year-old boy beaten to death as he tried to defend his 12-year-old sister from a brutal rape gathered outside their home Friday, grappling with the details of the vicious attack. They leaned on one another, crying, shaking and struggling to understand the loss of little Martin Cobb” (nbcnews.com).
Behind my eyes and in my throat and chest: I can’t decide if it’s a roar or a sob. Maybe both.
I believe what your servant Paul wrote centuries ago about “bear[ing] one another’s burdens,” but I’m not sure how much longer I can comply. Tired, Lord, so tired. But don’t worry. I’m not giving up, not about to fall on a sword. The problem is, my spirit can’t catch its breath. Where does ferocious evil come from? Why won’t it stop crushing your children?
I don’t mean your children poetically. I’m talking about your literal children. You know what happened days ago in Nigeria, so I say this not for you, but for those who pray with me:
A “tragedy is unfolding in Nigeria, where members of the ultra-radical Islamist group Boko Haram grabbed . . . [school] girls, most believed to be between 16 and 18, from their dormitories in the middle of the night in mid-April and took them deep into the jungle. A few dozen of the students managed to escape and tell their story. The others have vanished. (Roughly 200 girls remain missing.) The latest reports from people living in the forest say Boko Haram fighters are sharing the girls, conducting mass marriages, selling them each for $12.”
Your creation is kind of strolling along like this is no big deal. Hear my blasphemous prayer: “God damn it! God damn it! God damn it!” As you can see, I’ve no idea what to do with your priceless girls being shared and/or sold for the price of bottle of wine, so my soul sits in ancient Jerusalem’s town dump under a cross, with blood staining my trousers. Sometimes the only sane response is rage.
Of course, I’m actually drinking beer at my dining room table and feeling guilty. A restaurant messed up my order this afternoon, and I was pissed. I’m still pissed, but it wasn’t until that I sat down here and learned the news of Martin Cobb that my vision cleared. Forgive my pettiness.
Martin. My God, my God! And his sister and mother and loved ones. Just playing by the railroad tracks, Lord—a sister and brother who loved each other. The news doesn’t say whether Martin’s sister got raped, but it sounds like maybe not. I’m grateful for that, but not for the brick that smashed Martin’s head. They didn’t even have to take him to the hospital.
So, God I love, what should I pray for? Take machetes and bricks out of the world? Bring all people to their senses? Protect the vulnerable? Obviously you and prayer don’t work that way. I still love you, but I sure don’t understand.
I would like to ask that the ultra-radical Islamists’ penises catch fire, that Martin Cobb’s killer / sister’s assailant get ripped up in jail. But that’s the reptile in me praying. Rapists and murderers are your children, too—the subject for another prayer.
For your Nigerian girls who are now getting married or shared in the jungle: if nothing else, give them a sign. Something! Let them know that they are your beloved, that not everybody in the world has forgotten them.
For Martin Cobb’s sister: let it all be a blur; let her eyes have been turned away from her brother’s end; let her body and soul be well in time.
For Martin: you caught in your hand of grace the brick that smashed his skull, right? He felt nothing, right? He rests now in your lap of pure mercy, right?
For Martin’s mother and loved ones: shit, how can they continue? Martin must have been really something. Give them what they need to remember him with joy.
It’s time to close, Lord. The beer is gone, and I’m sipping an affordable red Zinfandel. Your creation is shredding itself bloody. I trust you, but just don’t know what to think anymore.