Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Light that Pierces the Darkness

The following was written at the first of the year in response to the tsunami that devasted south east Asia
How often do we see or even live through catastrophe of biblical, even apocalyptic proportions? What, we might see such a moment once or twice in our whole lives? There can be no doubt that the events in South Asia on December 26 were one such event.

You know, videotape, a rather recent convention in the documentation of the affairs of the world, is helpful only to a point. After a while, we no longer are witness to history. It becomes undignified, even strangely voyeuristic as we watch the last moments of the unsuspecting. How many home videos do we need to see of death’s unstoppable approach to understand that something cosmic, psychic, and yes, even spiritual has and is occurring?

And while many would prefer to wrestle with theological issues of theodicy (that old question stating that if God is good then why do bad things happen - surely, Rabbi Harold Kushner has helped us get a handle on that one), I’d prefer to focus on something that has inspired me as to the truth of humanity’s better angels.

There’s a moment in Star Wars that I’ve thought about since this happened (actually, I’ve thought about a parallel in an original Star Trek episode, but I don’t want to freak you out by the fact that I could name the episode and it’s airdate in the late 1960’s). In Star Wars, there’s this moment when the Empire tests their planet obliterating weapon on an unsuspecting planet, and, in an instant rendered it dust. Jedi Knight, Obi Wan Kenobe, half a galaxy away, “feels” it. He feels the loss, the “disturbance in the force.” He didn’t have to witness it personally to know its impact not only on the innocent, but on the relationship on all that is, including him.

Have you felt it? Do you feel it? This is hell. Death in unfathomable numbers – children, blessed children of God swept away. Perhaps we might know something of biblical lament when we think upon this text used in response to Herod’s slaughter of the innocents:

‘A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’ Matthew 1.18
And yet, in this the darkest of moments, there is a light that pieces it. It is the light of empathy that motivates monetary aid (and folks need to back off the President on his timing of response – this is no time for politics). It’s the light that comes in the dogged determination to get to the suffering and relieve them. It is the light of millions, maybe billions of members of the human race, who, in the ways they know how, have taken a moment of pause to pray for the lost, the suffering, and grieving. Why? Because they “feel” the loss on a level that is personal, it is the expression of the ties that bind the human family one to another.

I read an article last week about the earthquake that produced the tsunami. One scientist said that its magnitude and location literally impacted the rotation of the planet. That’s an awesome and scary thought. But, in matters of the spirit, I couldn’t agree more in its truth.

Jesus said that we are “the light of the world,” and that such light should never be hidden. If we’ve interpreted that reading only in evangelistic terms, we’ve missed it. We are light called to pierce the darkness of humanity’s condition and respond to what we find with overwhelming care and love.

Maybe our empathy and the light of concern that shines for those we don’t know can inspire us to more fully respond to our neighbors we do, whose devastation may not be of global scope, but whose universe is racked with suffering, violence and oppression. You are the light – so let it shine!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You've got my curiosity up...

Doomsday Machine - Spock / Kenobi?