I stood beneath my neighbor’s beautiful cherry blossom tree as a breeze lilted through its thick thatched petals of pink, dislodging some of them so we were playing a scene from the moment when the Buddha awakened and petals snowed from the sky. You have no doubt your own moments of Spring Awakening as you have navigated down streets with trees blooming in a riot of pink and white and green. Our cars are coated by pollen. When we stop long enough–and sometimes a few seconds is all it takes–within the cycle of renewal and a season of life, we come to our senses and a vivid truth confronts us: none of this had to be; we do not control these seasons tightly winded and released to play their music box songs to us again and again. The fact that the universe renews itself is a fundament fact that we must ponder. Only the most cynical or arrogant among us dismiss this as though it just happens and it is no big deal. Oh, yes, it is. Indeed. That you are part of this is nothing short of a miracle.
Another fact of the universe counters the truth of renewal. Calvin would call it the depravity of human beings. I’ve no issue with his calling it this. But suffice it to say that if renewal is a constant then the human inclination to pollute, ruin and even destroy life is a fundamental fact that must be taken into consideration too. Something went wrong. The Russian poet and Soviet exile, Joseph Brodsky, talked about an “anthropological backslide” having occurred to which he immediately connected the idea of sin. And sin he said is not such a hard word to define. It simply means, he said, that “man is dangerous.” I’m not sure you have noticed but the current President has appointed persons to head departments who actually hate those departments and have been and are dedicated to ruining them. Whether it be the oversight of our environment or the nurturing of diplomacy, the appointees have held these very departments in contempt. We are being treated to a vivid depiction of cynical and Orwellian government.
What to do? let go into the mystery, as Van Morrison sings. Pause and consider the vast sums of order and precision, the fine-tuned universe beyond you and within you. And then get yourself to a sacred space and in gratitude, worship and commune. Get to a place where truth-telling is still considered possible and necessary.
~ See you Sunday
How many noose incidents have we seen in the last two months? How many incidents of racist assault and murder? How many women jeered and made less safe? From murders to assault and harassment, the uptick in violence and hatred is palpable. Include in this a xenophobia generated at a level perhaps unseen in this country since WWI and then try to keep up with a daily barrage of insult and banter from the twitterverse of the President; add to that hostile decisions aimed at the earth and its climate and one is left with feelings of exhaustion and fear.
When there are are so many separate events, how is a citizen to make sense of it all? Patterns. Patterns are those larger rubrics that are comprised of individual actions or particles. So you don’t have to be familiar with each single incident to know that there is a pattern at work. And we see it vividly with this presidency of hatred. I don’t know what else to call it–the President had an audience with Pope Francis who appealed to him not to abandon America’s commitment to the earth as articulated in the Paris accord and days later, Mr. Trump abandons the accord. He has made of our country an outlier of civilization and science. We are alone, willing to pollute the world and not own what damage we have done to our planet. Curiously, many in the conservative Christian communities voted for him because of their single-issue obsession with abortion. They voted to protect the life of the unborn but handed the presidency over to a man who is willing to abandon generations both living and unborn to a dying world, choking to death on pollution.
Think of these events from pollution of the earth and its exploitation to racist and anti-religious hatred as magnetic filings. You know what happens when metal filings are poured onto a surface. They simply lie there with no pattern. Place a magnet nearby and the filings move as though energized and they take shape in patterns dictated by that magnet. The metal filings of hatred are moving and they are lining up and when you watch them, they are moving toward the White House. The current Congress may not hold President Trump accountable for these hatreds, for hating our NATO allies while fawning over Russia, for its racist and misogynist overtones, but history will clearly show how these patterns of hatred flowed in direct reaction to a White House run by White Nationalist ideology and hatred of science.
But the Christian is called to a greater force than any magnetic pull of a spiteful megalomaniacal ruler and that greater force is Love. So when you step back and look at the larger picture, you will see churches and synagogues and mosques and temples and yes, humanists both religious and atheist, who are doing their dead-level best to treat the earth and one another with love and dignity. That Love force has a magnetic pull greater than hate. In these dangerous times, we must believe that and then act with hope and determination. Nothing less than the fate of our earth and the fates of millions of persons demand this. ~See you Sunday