We went walking on the beach this evening. Another gorgeous sunset on the Gulf. So often I find that I lack the words to capture the colors and soft vapor shapes that dance across the Western sky.
But tonight my vision was shrouded by a crippling awareness of monstrous forces tearing us apart as a society and as a world. The lines of a poem came to mind, written by Irish bard W.B. Yeats, in the aftermath of World War I and at the time of the bloody Irish War of Independence.
His verse is entitled, “Second Coming.” The words that swept into my mind were:
“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”
This struck me as a dire depiction of what is happening around us these days. We’ve lost the “center” that once held us together. It is dismally obvious by a quick scan of the news. My United Methodist Church is splitting over the issue of homosexuality. Christians are sharply sundered over Donald Trump’s agenda. Family and friends have stopped speaking to one another because of the tribalism that has rent our social fabric.
On a global scale, old alliances have been broken, the gap between the First World and the rest of humankind is widening. The chasm between the wealthy and the indigent is ominously growing. And those we’ve trusted to lead us have lost their vision of unity, solidarity, reconciliation, and peace among the nations. We can’t even find a way to work together to care for the environment while wildfires rage and oceans rise!
What will it take to find a center? Religions aren’t helping; they often are the sources of schism and the purveyors of violence. What about realizing we’re all in the human family together? This Earth is our home, and we have to care for it. And we are one race…called the “human race.”
O God of this great night and all the earth, we need you now. Life on this planet is as disturbed as the surging sea outside my window. Those who claim to follow you are too often the ones who sustain the tumult. We confess that we constantly search for ways to exclude others, probably because we’re afraid of them, or we see our shadow selves in them. Grant us courage to rebuild the bridges we’ve been eager to tear down. Help us to see others as your children, whom you love and for whom, some of us believe, Your Son came to save. Amen.