…to have been born birds and have freedom–after all, look at what we humans are doing to ourselves.
–Immaculee Ilibagiza in her book, Left to Tell, about living through the Rwandan genocide.
These were her thoughts as she heard birds singing outside the window on her first morning in the 3 ft. by 4 ft. (.9 m by 1.2 m) bathroom which would be her home (refuge? hiding place? prison?–at different times, it felt like all of those) with five other women for 90 days.
The book has just about left me speechless. At this point, I find it difficult to think about summarizing it or even selecting significant quotes. In a story full of life, death, hatred, forgiveness, unspeakable grief, incomprehensible destruction and sorrow upon sorrow, this little quote somehow stood out to me, even though it doesn’t really represent the book as a whole.
Left to Tell spoke to me on many levels and also added to my thinking and wrestling seriously with what I often experience as paradoxes in what it means to love like Jesus, care deeply about justice, forgive our enemies, weep with those who weep and care about those who are suffering.
So although the quote that opened this post is not representative of the bigger stories and themes in the book, any other quotes I might have chosen seem like they need to be read as part of the whole and not as a random paragraph read in isolation on the internet.
I’m glad I read this book, even though it is one which I think will (as it should) haunt me.
Anything else I try to say seems like it would take away from the author’s story.