Refugee camps can be kind of depressing places, I think.
There is a stagnancy about them; a day-in-and-day-out monotony where you can come so close to feeling like its simply a village, but you can never fully remove the awareness that its not.
One afternoon, we we walked through the camp in search of tomatoes for dinner. Earlier that day, two twelve year olds had drowned while swimming in the river, and we watched a child’s body carried quickly past us.
For some reason, I thought of their mothers. I imagined a woman weeping over her son’s wet body. The camp community would know of the deaths, and few others. The numbers would change on the camp counts, as they always do. But I felt that he deserved more mourning; that he not be overlooked.
I began to imagine the many people weeping around the world at that moment, in that day–this woman for her child, others for deaths of friends or family, hurtful words, fear, wars coming close to home, or loneliness.
But there were joys happening in that same moment, on that same day, in many of the same places–babies born, people celebrating success in their work or a feeling of purpose, a sincere conversation between friends, delicious food, or beautiful music.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
The significance of this verse began to resonate. What if we truly mourn and rejoice with others?
Allowing ourselves to mourn with the suffering around us–in our own cities as well as globally–makes us unable to ignore it. We are required to carry a portion of the weight and to be reminded.
But at the same time, we can cherish others successes and celebrations.
We begin to cross cultures and income gaps. It becomes less about our joys or our sorrows and more about others; the global community that both aches and hopes simultaneously. We suddenly have many people crying with us and rejoicing with us at the same time we join with others.
It’s much easier and much more pleasant for us to forget pain and ignore suffering, or perhaps simply to control when we think about it. It’s easier to hope for personal joy and success rather than collective benefit.
As I thought about this little boy and his weeping mother, I caught a glimpse of the community that is created in this verse. Not only among our immediate community as we learn to rejoice and mourn with each other, but also on a global perspective. It pushes us to selflessness. If individuals choose to engage in mourning and celebrating worldwide, we connect ourselves. We become a part of the whole of creation that aches and hopes for eternity. Our focus is shifted from self to community.