BY REV. DAVID MERRITT |
On a recent visit to the YMCA in Clemmons, North Carolina, I passed by a window next to the walkway on my way to the outdoor track and soccer field. Underneath the window in the mortar joint, a small plant was emerging from its rocky crevice moving toward the light. As you can see, the leaves were beginning to form and take shape. Perhaps if you look closely, you might even see the emergence of a bloom of sorts. I’m not a botanist, just a casual observer. I could not name the plant but only admire its tenacity and strength.
Over the past few weeks, most of us have been exposed to the horrors of war, the painful degradation of human trafficking, and now the senseless slaughter of innocents and staff at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. It is at these times of tragedy that we cry out to God in our spirits. We echo the Psalmist who often questioned the presence of God in the midst of suffering, death, and destruction of their known world. And like the Psalmist of the Hebrew People, we lift our weary arms to the heavens and ask, “How long, O Lord!”
There are no easy answers and even the questions come at a great cost for most of us. They awaken our childhood traumas, our fears, and our inner conflict between what we know is true, just, and lovely and the base nature of the human condition. We want answers and sometimes we even want revenge. We rationalize the unmistakable facts with news analysis that never ceases in the 24 hour news cycle. And if we are really honest, the pain is not ours; we do not claim it for fear that if we do, then it might be our pain, our child, our loved one, and our problem too.
But even there, Jesus reminds his followers following his Ascension that he is there ”even to the end of the age.” Yes, Jesus is there and the reality of that truth is the only hope we have in this world that is less recognizable to us of the other generation. The great Hope of all of creation is there in the midst of all the suffering, all the loss of life, and in the horrible awareness that even here, in our own communities, we are not immune from the suffering of this world.
Next week I will walk the track once more. The tender leaves of the plant nestled among the harshness of the red bricks may be plucked from its roots. It may wither with the scorching heat of the sun. I am sure that on my next trip, I will either be amazed at its growth or saddened by its demise. But for a brief moment today, a temporary pause from the noise and chaos of the world, I felt a surge of gladness and joy in the green growth that was possible. It was a “God Moment” as one of my friends would call it. And in that brief encounter, I felt the hand of God. So, I give thanks for the gift. Yes, growth and new life can grow in the hard reality of life, my friends.
Peace to all of you who are weary and heavy of heart. Peace to those who teach, who lead, and who carry the burden for others. Peace to those who respond, who protect, and console the broken. Peace to those who live on the edge, who suffer with sadness, and face fear. May the Peace of Christ bloom in you as you follow the way of Love!
About the author
The Rev. David Merritt is a retired Pastor, former Dean, Outreach Director, and Chaplain, but he’s “papa” according to his grand-kids. David loves God, Laurel Ridge, and his family. He has enough sense to get out of the rain but prefers raindrops anyway.
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