Let us imagine a world
Walter Brueggemann helps us to understand that the task of the prophet is to provide adequate symbols to represent despair and numbness. The prophet must also bring deep fears and shame to light for us to face despair and numbness with honesty. The prophet must help us to see our “deathliness” in concrete ways. This was Jeremiah’s task in a society that abused the poor and the peasants, to the point of forgetting the covenant (31:32) ,to the point of becoming numb.
The symbol given to Jeremiah was tears and anguish. Jeremiah cried for his people (Judah) who were so busy gathering wealth and power that they became numb by their own material wealth and power. They could not see the pain of their fellow humans or the pain of God. Jeremiah cried for them because they were indifferent and lost touch with God and their neighbours. God will destroy Jerusalem.
But then Jeremiah saw that a time will come when the destruction will be undone and life can be re-imagined. God will move closer and enter into the core of our humanity, into the place of meaning (heart) and insight (mind). God will no longer be indifferent to the plight of the people. God will establish a new covenant and a new community of freedom.
We live in a world numbed to the pain of others. It is a world where power and greed fills the heart and mind of people to the point where they are unable to look at the world through the eyes of the loving One. They no longer cry or feel sympathy. It never crossea their minds that generalizations about people causes pain and destroys human dignity. They neither believe that God promised to destroy their power, nor do they believe that we can enter into new deep community.
What could happen in the spaces of meaning and insight is incomprehensible to human beings without the imagination of God’s Spirit. Those who were numbed and unaware become sensitive and understand the cruel effect of their self-centeredness. Those who cried discover that they are embraced to the point where they too can open their eyes and see new possibilities in the community. Maybe they can gather the power to forgive and reach out, maybe the pain has already become so heavy and such a burden that they can do no more than cry. In a strange way it does not matter, because God entered our space with a promise of healing, restoration and a new beginning. It will come. If not today, maybe tomorrow or even next year, but it will come. But first we have to learn how to cry not only for ourselves, but also for those whose numbness were unmasked and now stare a future of shame in the face.
To read more: W Brueggemann : The Prophetic Imagination published in1978 by Fortress Press
To think about
Take anything that you can see – words or pictures in a publication, clothes or furniture in the room, leaves and sand from the garden and imagine a world where you can cry for those who face a future of shame– or imagine a world where you are consoled and can dare to laugh and sing aloud.