(So. I didn't get this done in advance, as planned/hoped. Apologies. I will therefore put up the linky deal later today and will keep it up for more than just a day, and will repeat it. Okay?)
I know someone who was murdered. Considering the murder rate, it seems like everyone ought to know someone who was murdered, and yet, when this (rarely) happens to come up, people are shocked and appalled---most people seem not to know anyone who was murdered.
The victim is someone who was close to us. So is the murderer. The murder was brutal.
I expect all murder is always brutal, but because I know this one, it seems especially so. Since it happened---and it's been a few years now---I've had a lot of thoughts. Initially, I had frequent thoughts and feelings about it---including anger, especially anger, along with disbelief, horror, sadness, and more---but as is typical, with time, it's slowed down, until something happens that brings it back up. That happens less and less now.
Even though I know the people, and even though it affected (affects) me, it is still somehow, not my story. There are people closer to it than I. That's why I won't go into any great detail.
After all this time---the murder itself, the police investigation, the trap, the capture, the trial, and the imprisonment of the murderer---I still don't believe in any part of the murder on some level. Part of my brain is still reeling, shocked. How could this happen? This couldn't have happened! This can't be. It's so wrong. There must be some mistake.
If---when---I think about the murderer, my thoughts are equally disbelieving and disjointed. In the end, my disbelief, my inability to suspend my disbelief, my inability to grasp that Person A did this, and what's more did it to Person B, and did it like that...it makes me shake my head and look for some sort of disease. The murderer must be mad, insane, has anyone checked for a brain tumor?
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I think this. Despite the coldness, the planning, the rational behavior before and after a totally irrational act, and the clean bill of health...I think this.
It does not compute.
I wish---and oh how many times and ways I've tried to---I had the ability to write movingly, poetically, about this. But it is my way, in times of great emotional upheaval, in times when things defy my world framework, to turn to logic and analysis. It makes me sound cold, and few people understand. It also prevents me from presenting it in a way that is relatable, with some insight.
I regret that.
I think it is why this post has not been done. I keep trying to find the way, the words, to convey all that this is.
The reason this story came up again recently is because of a letter. If we were to tier people who had ties to this murder it would be:
Tier 1: Immediate Family
Tier 2: Very close friends
Tier 3: Friends, people who knew the people well
Tier 4: People who were daily acquaintances
Tier 5: People who brushed by
I suppose I am Tier 3. Someone from Tier 2 told me that (s)he recently received a letter from the murderer. In the letter the murderer wrote, more or less, that (s)he had made peace with what had happened and knew God had forgiven him/her.
I was surprised by the rush of fury I felt over this.
The murder was not something that happened. The murderer committed the murder. Horribly. Coldly. Brutally. Unnecessarily.
The letter made it clear to me that the murderer was still rationalizing the murder. The horror of what the murderer did had not at all struck him/her. Anybody with an engaged conscience should, I think, be in a state of shock and horror when they finally grasp the dreadful enormity of what they did. I should think that were this to strike a person, it would suck the very air from their lungs, maybe nearly forever.
But maybe that's what is missing, to have done such a thing in such a way in the first place.
Additionally, I care deeply about the Tier 2 person. It infuriated me that the murderer was reaching out and attempting to victimize yet another person---and oh, during the investigation and trial, the people the murderer hurt, on top of the pain already of the murder itself, but the brutality didn't end there---and what's worse, expecting a reply, one that said---I don't know----that said it was okay. I don't think the murderer was asking for forgiveness. I think the murderer wants validation, to have the act condoned. "Yes, we understand, and it's okay."
It's not okay. It will never, ever be okay. People will become okay. But the murder? Never okay.
The murderer still has no remorse, no sympathy for the victims---yes, plural, because it's not just the murder victim.
In my humble opinion...without remorse, there can be no atonement. Not on any level, human or divine.
The idea of atonement on the human level is that after some wrong, there is reparation, satisfaction. On the divine level, it means that God and man are reconciled.
Perhaps it is the limitation of my doctrine, but I have always been taught that remorse is a necessary component of reconciliation. God may love you, may even forgive you (because of atonement, because of the sacrifice of Jesus), but you don't get forgiveness until you display remorse. I think it must be true remorse, remorse from the marrow of your bones, where you form a new neural pathway or something in your brain because you so deeply understand that what you did was wrong. And through this, can be trusted to not do it again.
And I know all too well how many times some of us must make the same mistakes, even ones we do deeply regret, before learning a new way.
But this story, these thoughts, they are about murder, not being terrible about remembering birthdays or being snappish when stressed.
I want to have sympathy for the murderer, and on some level, I do. This doesn't mean I condone what the murderer did, or like the murderer, please don't mistake it. But I feel sorry (?) that this person is such a destructive person. Sorry that this person's path, with so many lessons to learn, is so harmful to others, and believe it or not, to him/herself.
This is the thing that allows me to have forgiveness that enables me to move on.
However, on other levels, there is that disbelief, and with that, a lack of extended forgiveness.
So, perhaps, I am overlaying my own personal feelings on top of the two levels of atonement. Perhaps correctly, perhaps erroneously. Or perhaps a combination of both, in that sort of growing and developing sort of way.
What do you think? What is atonement? And how do we define it, achieve it, receive it?
Feel free to comment here, or on your own blog. If you've read something about atonement that you like, feel free to put the links into your post, and add your blog link into the Mr. Link (which I'll put up later). Make sure to link here, too.
Note: I'd like to discuss the concept of atonement, but this post had to come first, to explain why it is on my mind.
Mr. Linky added in:
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