This morning in church one of the readings (it was Holy Innocents Day) was about Rachel weeping in Ramah for her children because they are not. I've heard that thousands of times. But tears sprang up thinking about Rachel. In previous years I've contemplated what it was like on the Flight into Egypt, how Mary managed in a hurried, night-time, desperate escape into refugee status. But Rachel's story is a sidebar to the Main Event.
She had no idea of her role in the coming of the Saviour of the world. Her children and family were collateral damage. What about this unsuspecting mother, Rachel and her children? She had two under the age of two--she wept for her CHILDREN. They must have been both little boys. Maybe they were twins. But she lost them both. Brutally. I couldn't think about that: but clearly it wasn't in a sterile hospital with kind nurses and people being sympathetic and understanding. No. Most likely it was in her home or outside her front door. Fast. Merciless. Some present day Syrian mothers would no doubt have a clearer picture than I.
Rachel is my new picture for collateral damage. And many times collateral damage doesn't realise what was going on--the purpose--the Big Design--the "reason" if there can ever be a reason for babies to die. There is One who collects all our tears in a bottle. The tears shed over the loss of babies must be of tsunami proportions in a bottle all of their own.
I plan to carry Rachel's tears with me into this year and meditate on them. Her broken heart, how was it to carry on, and did time ever heal that heart? There must have been a two year gap of little boys in the whole neighbourhood of Bethlehem ever after: no Bar Mitzvahs for those two years. All those mothers must have been strength for each other in occupied territory. Rachel: two identical verses about her: one in Jeremiah, the other in Matthew. Weeping and loud lamentation. And she refused to be comforted.
Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.