Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A man, a plague, a book, and a journey long overdue

Borders is going out of business! Well, it has been for awhile. How does a 40-year old company with 19,000 employees go bankrupt? "A series of missteps".

It's funny how easily that simple phrase can be used to characterize any number of tragic failures, business or otherwise, that have come and gone. Take the Black Death for example. Who knew that not rushing to bury the rotting enemy corpses that were flung (by them) into your town but instead making your swift escape would bring a disease so contagious and lethal that it would end up killing a third of the population of western Europe over the next 2.5 years? A series of missteps, indeed.

Or take President Franklin D. Roosevelt, an otherwise meritiorious individual who did well beyond his duty for the good of men, who, through a series of missteps, ordered the internment of 120,000 people in the interest of "national safety", in spite of the fact that many of them were legalized immigrants and even US Citizens? A series of missteps, indeed.

Then there was this compilation of letters which became a book, from a man called Dietrich Bonhoeffer. At a young age he wanted to be a psychiatrist, but later became convinced of the need to reform the church and its institutions found in Germany. To that end he studied to become a pastor and theologian, which eventually led him to join the Abwehr, a counterintelligence organization that plotted and executed events that have been popularized in a number of films, most recently Bryan Singer's Valkyrie. Through a series of missteps, his connection to Abwehr was uncovered and he was moved from a prison to a concentration camp, and ultimately to his death. The correspondence he had (which the prison guards happily facilitated, seeing as how he was so likable) while in prison with his family and loved ones formed the basis of many modern evangelical and church-building philosophies...a series of missteps, indeed.

It makes me wonder about my own story. What journey have a I taken that has led me here? Is it so simple? Am I simply resigned to sameness and mundanity for these days until that day in which I look back and simply say, "a series of missteps, indeed"? I don't know, certainly. But there is a story left in the back of my mind, half-written, penned in some foreign tongue, waiting to be translated and read and spoken to those who may wander within range of its voice. Is it worth hearing? I can't speak for others, but I can't seem to stop hearing it. I can't seem to stop it from coming back to the forefront of my mind, and I must stop pushing it back there, hoping it will lay down to rest. Perhaps one day it will, and I will have lost my chance to tell my story, and fall simply into line after line of those who have fallen before me.

A series of missteps, indeed.