I had a dream. I think it was a nightmare. But by the end I thought it was a lucid dream, perhaps even a revelatory dream. But we can sort all that out later. For now suffice to say I had a dream. Let me tell you about it.
The story line was a modern day Cain and Abel. You know how it goes: Abel is God’s favorite and Cain is so jealous he kills Abel. Then when God comes to visit there’s no sign of Abel anywhere. God asks “So Cain, where’s your brother?”
Cain gets defensive. “What? Why ask me? I mean, am I my brother’s keeper?” This line is what is known as “famous last words.”
But God doesn’t answer Cain’s question. Normally i would advise against trying to read God’s mind, but in this case we have to start somewhere. So, why didn’t God answer Cain’s question? Perhaps God thought it was a rhetorical question. Let’s try that and see where it goes.
If Cain’s question is rhetorical, maybe it simply reveals how defensive he feels. Cain may be thinking thoughts like “I wonder if God knows what I did? Or, if I say I’m sorry will God forgive me? Or, I wonder what God is going to do to me?
But personally, I just have one question: What is the point or lesson of this story? The Bible is a compendium of moral stories. There is always a moral. So if you don’t get it, it just means it’s subtle. Not that it isn’t there.
So you can rest assured there is a moral to the story. So let’s just begin by stating right up front there is a moral to this story.
Now Cain’s no dummy and he correctly surmises he is in trouble. Is he in trouble for killing his brother, or is there more to it than fratricide? Hard to imagine right?
I’m gonna say there is indeed a larger issue than the immediate problem of the fratricide, and I like it out here on this limb, really. Because if the fratricide was as big a deal as we would make it in the 21st century, Cain would not have been in the garden that morning at all. He would have been running for his life to escape God’s wrath at him, for having killed his (God’s) favorite.
But Cain doesn’t run away. The so-called Old Testament is full of jealousy, deceit and murder. Maybe fratricide wasn’t as big a deal as it would be today. Maybe Cain isn’t worried at all. Maybe Cain feels good about how he solved the Abel problem. That would explain why Cain isn’t trying to hide from God. We know from his flippant response when God asks him where Abel is, that he is frankly enjoying being rid of him.
Generally when you have a rhetorical question, everyone already knows the answer. It doesn’t appear Cain knew that he was his brother’s keeper. But if that was so, why didn’t God answer his question?
It’s a dilemma.
In my dream, the question is asked and answered. There is jubilation and reconciliation. In fact, in my dream henceforward there will be no blood spilled between brothers and sisters, and everyone realizes that we are all brothers and sisters.
Peace on Earth at long last. Love wins out. The illusion of separation evaporates in an instant. In my dream, I am held legally, morally, ethically responsible for the horrific crimes committed by Mark Lanza.
I don’t know him, I protest. Irrelevant. I wasn’t there to prevent it from happening. Irrelevant. I heard about it after the fact. Irrelevant. In the dream I struggle mightily to understand. Nothing I say mitigates my guilt. Because I am my brother’s keeper, as are we all. For ever and ever. Amen
In my dream, the whole of humanity is on trial for Adam Lanza’s crimes. Every mother is Adam Lanza’s mother. Every father is Adam Lanza’s father. Every teacher is Adam Lanza’s teacher. Every young person old enough to hold a gun is Adam Lanza, and so on.
We are as one. What one has done, all have done. And in the instant of shared responsibility, we stand together and discover that in our unity we are finally free.