Yesterday, I was sitting in the steam room at the gym, minding my own business, enjoying some silence, when the naked guy next to me says, “So, did you see that basketball player’s broken leg? It was gruesome.”
“No,” I replied, “I’ve been avoiding it.”
“Well, all the talk on the radio today is about the sound. Supposedly a lot of people in the arena could hear the snap, and they can’t get the sound out of their heads.”
Then he got up and left the steam room, leaving me alone to ponder the sound of breaking bone.
About the time that Ware broke his leg in a basketball game this weekend, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed. People were expressing their anguish at seeing the injury and the replays, and I immediately knew that I did not want to see it. I tweeted:
I’ve got a funny relationship with the frailties of the human body. On the one hand, in 1991 I seriously contemplated dropping out of seminary and applying to medical schools. I wanted to be an ER physician, and I even shadowed an ER doc for a few overnight shifts, pretending to be a med school student. On the other hand, I have fainted in several doctors’ offices when they’ve been explaining some internal ailment I had.
On the one hand, I saw several dead bodies during my decade as a police chaplain and never felt sick. On the other hand, I could never bring myself to watch Faces of Death when my buddies viewed it in high school.
As I sat alone in the steam room, contemplating a sound I hadn’t heard but had only imagined, I thought: You know what, there’s enough trauma in our world and in my life. I don’t need to add to it by making a point of watching and hearing the bodily trauma of another person.
We are frail. Bones break, skin rips open.
If there is anything to be learned about the death of Jesus on the cross, it is this: God knows this experience. God has embraced our frailty, and that experience has changed God for all time.
That’s the suffering I’d rather contemplate this week.