Tag Archives: covenantal life

Irma_Orlando_radar

Fog Lights Through A Disaster

In recent days since Hurricane Irma wrecked much of Florida, I have been dealing on a very personal basis with that wreckage for my mother’s home was ruined by the storm.  I won’t go into those details but suffice it to say I’m learning some things along the way as I navigate this disaster.

A disaster is always personal even when it is regional  One way we naturally gauge disasters like a hurricane is by satellite images and radar or even drones that hover above the landscape and provide us a perspective of the breadth of a disaster. The depth of a disaster, however, lie at the deep level of individual lives. Their narratives are comprised of trauma, harrowing escapes and sometimes unutterable loss.

When the storm dust is in the air, use fog lights.  The first time I learned this lesson was as a child in the back seat of a car. My father was driving and we went down a hill and as we did, suddenly a storm of dust out of nowhere filled the air.  He turned on his lights so he could be seen (ever see folks ride through rain storms without headlights on? they think they can see, and perhaps they can, but we need to see you!) but my father also pointed out that persons headed our way had their bright lights on which filled the dust with light and blinded everyone.  Dim lights or fog lights are the best way to navigate one’s path through.  But of course, people turn on their bright lights and with that they turn up their volume, yelling and frantically lashing out in panic. Turn your fog lights on, turn down the volume and find the path out.

We are interdependent and rely on the kindness of strangers.  I hope the country can finally come to terms with a covenantal view of human interdependency and be done with the half-truths of libertarian and other conservative ideologies that extol the individual’s liberty at the expense of our biblically mandated obligation to care for one another.  The question is not whether or not people “deserve” our help–we all need the help of one another. Living selfishly, as the monk Thomas Merton pointed out, is living at the doorstep of hell.  My mother has now made two trips to two different hotels. This morning, as she drank her coffee in the free breakfast area of the hotel, a stranger helped her with getting some hot water and other items.  Kindness is a hand that lifts our chin. We are humanized by those kindnesses and when we are the ones offering the kindness then we are also humanized in the process.

Life is a storm.  The Buddha’s first noble truth is, life is suffering.  Christianity has at its very center the suffering (the Passion) of the Christ.  To live is to navigate storms and loss.  We all suffer.  For me, at this frantic time, I am doing my best to get to Sunday. Why? Because I know when I get to Sunday, I get to peace and communion with others, hymns of joy and prayers of sustenance.  I hope you can find an oar and paddle your way over to our safe harbor.

~See you Sunday

President_Lincoln_Alexander-Gardner

Lincoln Has Been Murdered and the idea of Covenant along with him

One hundred and fifty years ago, April 14th, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Fords Theater.  A perverse act by a brassy patriot took his life and sought to destroy what Confederate armies could not.  One of the ways we could honor his life this week is to read again his Gettysburg Address.  It is, as you know, a very short speech.  In our time and in our culture of sound bytes, tweets and myriad screeds of hatred promulgated by politicians who seem to have little sense of a common destiny built upon shared goals, we would be served well by reading it.

The sad truth is, when the 1% control so much from wealth to media, a concept like of the people, by the people, for the people is endangered. The Congress is about to ratify a budget on the backs of the poor, the elderly, the disadvantaged and they do it in the name of patriotism, of course.  We are not so much called together with appeals to our better angels but we are called apart with appeals to what is small and fearful in us.

One of the things that stuns me is how those who claim Christ, claim to be his followers and wave the flag of family are so passionately committed to policies that harm families and their fellow citizens.  I’m not talking politics here as much as simple bible theology.  Persons who claim the bible as their foundational starting point for a politics of destruction should not be given license to use the sacred for the dismantling of safety nets for the least among us, for their misogynist bullying and their rhetoric of war and more war.  Here’s a word to consider:  covenant.  What Lincoln understood and died for was a covenantal comprehension of citizenship that defies the ideologies pouring forth from the president-want-to-be underlings populating the media stage at this moment.  If the bands of citizenship link us all in a common destiny then the “visions” offered us today are paltry and emaciated by comparison.  Listen to President Lincoln and you’ll quickly see what I mean:

…It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us…

Oh, that a Battle Hymn of the Republic might rise up out of the People and we would find out way out of a country governed by a congress that cannot govern and a citizenry seemingly incapable of asking what they might do for their country, to cite another visionary president shot down and taken from us.  In the mean time, let us enter the sacred precincts of our holy places and learn the art of covenantal life and mutual aspirations undergirded by mutual responsibilities.  ~ See you Sunday.