My rap star son—yep, the one who performs for crowds of
50,000 in France—has a new album coming out called Sorry Been Busy. That’s
pretty much been my tune the past few weeks—though my life is thankfully not as
exciting as a rap star’s—trying to start new work while keeping up with other
commitments. It will get better. I’m just glad it’s worthwhile work. Too many lack
Been up and down Indiana twice since mid-June, meeting with
people who are banding together to make changes—in their homes, sanctuaries,
and towns. This week in Terre Haute I met a newly forming group at a United
Methodist church, and the next night in South Bend a group of eleven
representing six churches and a mosque, all pooling information on how best to
lower their utility bills and protect Indiana’s air at the same time. The
Muslim and Mennonite folk were excited to hear they are receiving solar grants from
Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light.
Last week I also spent two mornings with Clinical Pastoral
Education (CPE) students at the
University of Louisville hospital, studying human
trauma through painful stories in Genesis—stories of exile, extinction, child
abuse, and rape, plenty of material for chaplains in the Bible’s first several
And I’m preparing to speak next month at a conference on the
Palestinian Diaspora at Diyar in Bethlehem. Insha’Allah, God willing. Every
day’s heartbreaking news is too wretchedly familiar: more than a thousand Gazans
dead, hundreds of children caught in the endless cruel crossfire between Israel
and Hamas. I could not agree more with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s
words yesterday in New York: “More
suffering and siege conditions in Gaza will only hurt innocent civilians,
further isolate Israel, empower extremists on all sides, and leave our world
far less safe.” I wish more American politicians had the nerve to speak as
straightforwardly as he did.
But I’m also preparing to speak next week at Massanetta
Conference Center in Virginia on creation in the Psalms. It’s hard to square
the traumas—from the local hospital, from the war zones—
with such hopeful words.
“You open your hand, satisfying the
desire of every living thing,” says Psalm 145:16. It’s as if the Psalms and the
news are describing two different planets.
Yet I believe that
if the violence is true, and it is, that God’s provision is also true, through
the little things taken for granted, such as fresh daily supplies of oxygen, and
the kale leaves that keep on growing, rain and sun, self-regulating temperatures,
and verdancy. These fall quietly, incessantly on a chaotic world, making the
next day possible.
I’m reading a book
called What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? by Tony Juniper, mostly because
of the great title. What would happen if humans everywhere realized that the
biosphere’s free gifts to us far outweigh all grievances and greed? I don’t
expect to see it happen, but nature’s divine gifts, rightly remembered, do tend
to keep hope alive.