The Dark Side

dark oceanOne of my daughters has practiced the art of painting for a number of years. The most recent series of paintings have been quite dark, and when she asked me if I liked a particular painting, I said, frankly no, it was so dark and depressing. She said, “Well, you’ve always had a hard time facing the dark things in life.” She’s right. And as we talked, the subject of James Foley came up. He is the journalist who was so gruesomely murdered by the ISIS. My daughter was surprised that I had been following the news and was fully familiar with what had happened.

In fact, as we prepare to leave on a mission trip to Cambodia (see earlier posts), I have become much more aware of the dark side. As I’ve studied Cambodia’s history and have begun to learn of its grim past, I have had no choice but to take the blinders off and pay more attention to the world. If I’m going to travel to the other side of the world, to one of the darkest places there, and try to do some good, then I need to “be smart about it”, and know what I’m getting into and who I’m dealing with.

And so, we sat and talked about James Foley. I asked the question, “How did this young man face this terror? How does anyone, for that matter, face such evil?”

My daughter said, “Mom, they do it knowing that they are loved. James Foley knew that he was loved unconditionally by two great parents back home, and surrounded in that love, he was able to face that evil.”

As I become more aware of the horrific things that go on in this world; of people so filled with hate, and the unimaginable crimes they commit, I can’t help but feel a bit weak in the knees. But I am reminded, thank God, that for every one of those lost souls, there is a person filled with love, ready to put their fears aside, and do what they can to help others.

My daughter reminded me that not all art is ‘about the decoration’. It’s about making people aware. It’s about helping people to remember. And so, I remember James Foley and his family today. With my deepest condolences and prayers for healing.

I will also pray for the little girls that we will meet and work with in Cambodia. Many of them, sold into slavery by their own parents, have faced horrors we cannot fathom and have done so, void of love.


About susansplace

Widowed in 2012, I am a mother and grandmother. Born in San Francisco, I now live in the town I grew up in: Mill Valley, California. I love nature photography. Just an amateur but that's OK! My goal: world peace. Got any ideas?
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3 Responses to The Dark Side

  1. Greg Smith says:

    Dearest Sue – Your most recent post was so moving and spoke to my heart. I, too, have been very troubled by the brutal death of James Foley, certainly because of the loss of a fine young man who by all accounts was captured while trying to shine a light on the evil at work within Syria, but also because of the thousands of our fellow Christians who have met similar fates in total anonymity, and seemingly with little, if any, worldwide outrage at the unspeakable evil that is ISIS. These brothers and sisters in Christ have paid the ultimate price for their faith and their refusal to denounce that faith even in the face of a horrendous death. Could I/would I have such strength? I would hope so but, frankly, it is hard for any of us I think to even contemplate such evil so close at hand.

    The reading of Cambodia’s Curse in preparation for our mission trip there in November has taken on such relevancy in light of these abhorrent current events. The feelings expressed by Charles Twining of the U.S. State Department, who stationed himself at the Thai-Cambodian border during the summer and fall of 1975 to try and learn from refugees fleeing from Cambodia the nature of what was taking place following the fall of Phnom Penh to Khmer Rouge, closely mirrors what I think many of us are thinking about recent events. To quote from the book: “By December, nine months after the fall of Phnom Penh, Twining was beginning to hear stories so terrible he wasn’t sure he believed them. …. Over the following months his reports grew darker. Twining began to think, “This can’t be possible in this day and age. This is not 1942. This is 1975.”

    As I picture James Foley kneeling in his orange jumpsuit I could very well be saying to myself, “This can’t be possible in this day and age. This is not 1975. This is 2014.” For whatever reasons, whether they be politics, naivete, complicity, disbelief, etc., the world for far too long turned a blind eye to the evil at work in Cambodia. Will the same happen today for the Middle East? Hopefully not, given that social media today makes the horror much more transparent than was true in 1975. On the one hand that is good. On the other, it makes real the magnitude of what we’re facing, compounds our pain and sense of loss as Christian brothers and sisters are slain senselessly, and fosters internal conflict as we struggle on the one hand with wanting to do something to get involved, to make a difference, while on the other wanting to roll up into a fetal position with eyes closed and hands over ears.

    I went online to get a sense of what “the church” is doing in response to the evil at work in the Middle East and was blessed to run across the following blog which speaks exactly to the feelings I think you were expressing in your post:

    Bless you for your heart, your sensitivity to the needs of others, and your openness to the calling of Christ in this world.

    Your friend in Christ,


  2. All these cruel deaths are horrible, but I don’t have the same fear of death I did when I was younger. I guess the more I have gone through and the older I have become, the less I cling to this world. Death is a hard thing, but for the person who is gone and with the Lord, it is a blessed transition to pure Love. I still fear suffering, but death will be a release.

  3. susansplace says:

    Thank you for your comment, Lilly. It was good for me to hear those words!

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