"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."

~C.S. Lewis

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tears of Light: A Heart's Outpouring Upon the Death of Osama bin Laden

Words slice through the air like the bullets that killed him.

Good riddance.
Rot in hell.
May they all die like you.

Other sentiments swirl around those words of fire like smoke.

Let us live in peace.
You did not need to die.
Your death was unjust.

The bullets have fallen.
The smoke is clearing.
And Light breaks through the clouds.


I cannot rejoice in knowing another human is likely in eternal pain. I cannot rejoice in this, for in Osama bin Laden I see myself. I am far closer to him than I ever will be to perfection in this life. In Osama’s failures and mistakes I see my own. In his death, I see my own potential end.

Osama fought for what he believed in. He had a vision of the world that he believed was worth living and dying for. I do as well, but mine is very different, in a different Man altogether. Yet it could have been another way—I could have gone down a different path. As such, I cannot judge but only be humbled.

Osama made a choice. Yet, I, too, made one: I did not and do not and will not follow his path. I know that there is One who has shown me a way of Light, yet true Light can hurt and punish, and His path will cause those who leave it to become seared. As a follower of Light, I am an instrument of the burning. I do not apologize for this. I cannot. Some people choose to give their souls in a quest to destroy that Light; they have a right to that. They give their souls; in return, we may take their bodies. For we have a right, too—a right to allow the Light to shine.


As such, Osama gave his soul, a deep price to pay and one that affects many. Somewhere, people weep for his death. I do not weep. But I understand. One person’s enemy is another’s hero; this is part of humanity. Somewhere, people laugh for Osama’s death. I do not laugh. But I understand. An end to someone is not always wrong; people make choices that bring them to their deaths.

Not just to death, but to death legitimately. Those who died alongside Osama knew the possibility of that end when they went down that path; they knew their actions had consequences; it was no surprise to them nor should it be to me. I respect them enough to not doubt that they understood that and, as such, to not withhold their punishment. Osama knew death was an option and a likely end. I honor his choice, his embracing of that risk, and his dying for what he believed in. He would not expect me to do less than to follow through in furthering my own choice—my choice of Light—and he would not expect me to condemn in theory but refrain in practice. That is dishonorable and that is what he would disrespect. In death, however, we understand each other; we honor each other’s choice.


Indeed, Osama’s death is no surprise. Is it not what we have been seeking as Americans? Did we not know it was coming? Yet, his single death cannot be fragmented from the thousands of souls who have had that same fate in this same war. Their lives go unnoticed, forgotten, lost, and unsung, and they fall from our minds, forgotten forever. In this war, however, Osama is one of hundreds, thousands, and in the tapestry of history, he is one of millions, billions.

If we rejoice in Osama’s death, we must rejoice in the death of hundreds who have died alongside him, and if we mourn Osama’s death, we must mourn the deaths of hundreds who have died alongside him. He was and is not alone, just as Hitler was not alone in the guilt of his actions. Every person who killed a Jew was Hitler’s partner. There was a choice for them. There is always a choice.

But Osama stands for them. He is a symbol.

As a symbol, he has caused us to confront what it means to die at the hands of another. Ten thousand people die a day, in an hour, in a war—it is not Osama’s death with which we struggle. It is that we killed him. It is that we had a standard, and another had to live by it.

And that is a different question altogether.


I am not afraid of death—not my own and not Osama’s. I know that death leads to more and comes from more. Death is not the end, not for me, because I know One who showed me that death is a door. A door to a new land. And He will lead me through.

I am not afraid of victory—and of that I am not ashamed. For I begin to realize that long life is not the goal of life; indeed, the very opposite is. I forget this so soon, so quickly, in a quiet, easy existence where I must fight for nothing, say nothing, do nothing, and live where only I matter. But if I look back across time, the stories show me that there is more. Those who live life for the right cause give up their life in glory and in hope. Those who live life for the wrong cause risk being be killed by others when fear and brokenness begin to reign through them. Those who live life for no cause are already dead. Life is not the goal of life, for it is living that is the goal.

As such, I understand why Osama died. He made his choice. And we made ours.


I know because of Him who died that death can bring ultimate hope, so I can see such hope through Osama’s death. I do not hope for peace—we are not called to peace with this world, and false peace is a cruelly dangerous enemy—yet I still can have faith in the assurance of what I hope for—that those who reside in darkness will see a great Light.

I pray for hope for this world and for Osama’s followers, and I hope his death brings it to them. Yet they may not see that, and so I seek to hold it out to them when they cannot find it, when they are searching blindly for the beauty they cannot quite find, when they seek to answer the call they cannot quite hear, and when they seek to touch the glory that is just out of reach. They do not know I hold their hope for them, but that does not matter. I will continue to hold it, and I pray that I will die holding it, for this who I am as a server of Light: a Hope-Bringer. I reach out towards them, offering, waiting, watching, praying, and watering the parched ground with my tears. Someday Light may fall on them and they will see my offering from the One who gave it to me, so many years ago.


There is a death I rejoice in, and this my own Lord’s. Not because I wanted Him to die, but because of what His death brought and symbolized and set free. I rejoice in Osama’s death, not because I wanted him to die, but because of what his death will bring and symbolize and set free. Death should not always be prevented, and Christ showed us that in Himself.

There is a victory I rejoice in, and this of Light. That is the nature of seeking a hope, of pursuing a glory, and of fighting a war. Someone wins—and someone loses. To be even is to have nothing; to be the same is to not exist; to allow all is to allow none. That is the way of the world, and it is a good way.