While it has been quiet on my blog, it`s been hectic in my life thanks to three young adorable granddaughters who took up my time, energy and attention for nearly three solid weeks. I discovered that I can no longer mix writing and tending to the needs and whims of little disarming and enervating creatures.
But while my days were filled with laughter, summer fun and young charm, the world kept on `burning`: more police shootings in the US, another friend in palliative care with cancer, random killings by mentally unstable persons, 1/4 million civilians trapped in Aleppo, suicide bombings and a coup attempt in Turkey, break-in at a friend’s house, an ISIS terrorist attack in a parish in rural France killing an 86-year old priest, a friend struggling mightily with his son’s transgender orientation, a Husky oil spill in our own beloved North Saskatchewan river affecting 100,000 + people’s water supply, Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination and then angering his own constituency with discriminatory comments regarding a slain Muslim US soldier … and on and on and on …
It`s a sheer miracle that beauty and love, joy and compassion, mercy and justice still break through in this messed up world. Despite all the evil, the bad choices, the wrong-headed decisions, the undeserved pain and suffering, the natural disasters on all levels — personal, communal, global — God continues to remain intimately involved with us in both ordinary and extraordinary ways, even if evidence is hard to see.
Blessing and curse, good and evil, have always woven themselves into every corner of our existence. Charles Dickens said it well when he wrote:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven,
we were all going direct the other way.
~ Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities
Still, if you’re anything like me, all the bad stuff around us makes me want to scream and storm heaven, demanding healing and justice and peace. But all we get is a call to foster a heart of peace, love and mercy after the example of Jesus. Much of the bad stuff is the result of evil finding a nesting place in hurting and vengeful hearts, and then growing to take up all that heart’s space, snuffing out any chance for love, mercy and peace. Evil always looks for a heart/spirit in which to make its home. The antidote to this, according to Brian Zahnd in his book Radical Forgiveness, is to absorb the blow without retaliation and without allowing it to damage, define or destroy one’s own spirit. This, according to Zahnd, is exactly what happened at Calvary when Jesus uttered, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
As I am currently reading Zahnd’s book, a concrete example of forgiveness came to mind, one that has inspired me in many a hard time in my own life. Etty Hillesum left a few dairies after WW II, during which time she died in Auschwitz, and a huge witness to a spirituality of beauty and mercy that can rival any famous saint. If anyone had reason to hate and seek revenge, it was her. Yet, she didn’t let the horrors around her define her. No, her heart was committed to seeking beauty, love and mercy no matter how bad the world was. Just absorb her wisdom in the following words:
“All I wanted to say was this: the misery here is quite terrible and yet, late at night when the day has slunk away into the depths behind me, I often walk with a spring in my step along the barbed wire and then time and again it soars straight from my heart—I can’t help it, that’s just the way it is, like some elementary force—the feeling that life is glorious and magnificent and that one day we shall be building a whole new world. Against every new outrage and very fresh horror we shall put up one more piece of love and goodness. … Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world.” ~ An Interrupted Life, Etty Hillesum
One moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. The more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world. Thank you, Etty, for reminding us of the one important task.
While the world burnt, my heart/spirit drank in the love and hugs, the water splashes and fun with my dear granddaughters. I give wholehearted thanks for those energetic days of laughter and sunshine, for little feet dirtying my floor and leaving their footprints of love on my heart, and for the joyful exhaustion after all safely returned to their parents 🙂 It is little ones such as these that help shore up large amounts of the peace, grace and mercy needed to remain a whole human being in this beautiful yet broken world.
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