Hearing the Forsaken Cry

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

~W.H. Auden “Musée des Beaux Arts”

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, c.1555 (oil on canvas) by Bruegel, Pieter the Elder (c.1525-69); Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium;

“Census in Bethlehem” by Pieter Bruegel -Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium;
“Massacre of the Innocents” by Pieter Bruegel

…as you sit beneath your beautifully decorated tree, eat the rich food of celebration, and laugh with your loved ones, you must not let yourself forget the horror and violence at the beginning and end of the Christmas story. The story begins with the horrible slaughter of children and ends with the violent murder of the Son of God. The slaughter depicts how much the earth needs grace. The murder is the moment when that grace is given.

Look into that manger representing a new life and see the One who came to die. Hear the angels’ celebratory song and remember that sad death would be the only way that peace would be given. Look at your tree and remember another tree – one not decorated with shining ornaments, but stained with the blood of God.

As you celebrate, remember that the pathway to your celebration was the death of the One you celebrate, and be thankful.
~Paul Tripp

God weeps
when tragedy and suffering happens.

Such evil comes not from God
yet humankind expects it,
walking dully past, barely noticing.
It is simply part of existence –
easier to not stop and feel the pain
or get involved.

But God does not walk past our hurt and trouble,
does not ignore, nor pretend to not see or hear our cries.

Only God glues together
what evil has shattered.
Only God could become the Man
who loves us enough to take our suffering
upon His own shoulders
— becoming forsaken
so that we are not.


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One thought on “Hearing the Forsaken Cry

  1. Always brought to tears when listening to Coventry Carol, at the lines “all young children to slay”. Thank you for the beautiful YouTube links.

    Emily you probably know this song but if not I think you’ll appreciate. Knowing you, you probably have a link to it already on your blog . My husband and I heard it on Rice (university), radio when it was first released.

    Liked by 1 person

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