Friday, September 21, 2012

Sandy Cove

At ten I faced its rolling waves
mesmerized by the promise of
days spent bodyboarding, eating
cheez whiz on crackers, tracking sand
into the trailer, simple meals at night.

The sand shifted mightily from year to
year: the steps to the beach at times
dangled precariously above ground.
Other trips it seemed the whole shore
swelled wave-like through the back door.
Many similar waters did that.

My friend’s beach trailer sold, but by then
high school had swirled us away.

More time still: my wife and I
overnighting in a beach cottage. Walking
the slick shore we happen upon
—as if I’d walked into my past—
that same cliff, those curls, lonesome now
with the trailers gone. The sand is down,
I can tell, even without the stair marker.

I remain fixed there
uncomprehending the loss
unsettled by the sand swells.

That hidden cove haunts:
cleaving pitifully to its sandy trove
protected by a gnarled cliff that spun off
days’ worth of tight left-breaking curls, the
morning waves fish-filled aquariums,
so quickly drained.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Being Wronged by 9/11

I gave this sermon today in Spanish at the Chapel of the Apostles in Sewanee, TN (video and full text here, English text below).

We saints are going to judge the world? Judge angels?! That’s what Paul claims, and it’s pretty intimidating. Good judgement comes only with God’s help. It requires time, prayer, listening and discerning God’s Spirit as She wends her way through the texts of our lives. Most of all, good judgement requires practice, and our churches can offer a space to learn and grow in our wisdom as we seek to live in this world as God would have us live.

So let’s practice our judgement on a tragedy that took place 11 years ago today. Where were you when the Twin Towers crashed down? How might God judge this crushing blow: the deaths of almost 3,000 people, the destruction of dozens of buildings, the lasting devastation to the economy?  How might God judge the American response? The outpouring of compassion for victims, but also the flags flying from windowsills, anti-Muslim hate crimes, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Hindsight provides clarity here, but also complication. Are we safer now? What could we have done better? I hear God’s Spirit speaking in Paul’s biting challenge for us: Why not rather be wronged?  Really?! Why not turn the other cheek, if you may? September 11 presented us with a problem that could not be solved. The lives were lost forever, the buildings crumbled. Our sense of immunity done in. What if we had but mourn the fallen, swept away the wreckage, began rebuilding, learned what we could from the fruits of hatred and violence, and renewed our nation’s efforts toward justice and peace? THAT is truly a new song that God has given us to sing from the rooftops and from the rubble.

Christians have something to teach American society, if only we’d first live it out in our own lives: God is the ultimate arbiter and granter of righteous judgement. Not humans. As Christians, our help comes from the Lord. And in the face of suffering and violence, we find our rightful place and role at Jesus’s side, whether as a disciple on dusty roads or a grieving mother at the foot of the cross.

Why not rather be wronged? To be wronged is to be made helpless, to be brought low, to be made weak. Like Christ on the cross. God gave us the capacity to judge, to discern right living.  Might we hold this gift lightly in one hand, and in the other, the terrible choice to be wronged.