That is what has happened to us. We have been broken open as a nation and as the world. Indeed, given the way things were going it was it was probably inevitable. Short- sightedness with its focus on power and money, combined with neglect of the larger systems of infrastructure , medical and otherwise, made us more vulnerable that we realized.

Ideology divided us into angry and anxious camps.

We no longer saw persons. To a large degree we only saw camps. Those who agreed with us were friends. Those who disagreed were enemies. The divisiveness was cooked in a toxic stew of hubris, thoughtlessness and the lust for power and money. The eye was fixed on the next stock market report while other values were subverted to the gods of mammon. Besides, we were all so busy with our coming and going that we passed one another swiftly and without thought. We were a collection of individuals and individualism, not community, was the mark of the time.

Now we see with different eyes.

The country and the world, in the midst of great pain and loss, are now beginning to recognize our common humanity. We see people making sacrifices large and small on the behalf of others. We now wave when we pass perfect strangers. We now yearn to connect with others. We find ourselves reaching out through technology, no longer taking for granted the proximity and community contact that we had enjoyed. We have been broken open to the reality that when we could no longer continue with business as usual, the planet experienced a major change in the quality of its air. The difference is seen in images taken by satellites.

If there were any lingering thoughts that we humans were not a major driver of climate change, then that thought can be put to rest.

We are not the first people to experience being broken open. The story is laid out for us in the book of Isaiah. Judah had forgotten what made for peace and wholeness and the people ended up in captivity in Babylon for nearly fifty years. In the text from Isaiah 40 we read the word that called the people out of captivity and into a new life. “Comfort, Comfort, my people says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and cry to her that she has served her term…” And later, “Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Needless to say, not all the people survived the ordeal. However, a new life for the people of Israel was unfolding.

What is God doing today?

God is one who is hidden and revealed. Therefore the ways and workings of God are always a mystery. Indeed it is an act of hubris to say we know and understand the working of God. However, we do believe that God is at work today and our lives can be strengthened and given direction by lessons past and present. What are the lessons learned?

Life is precious and it is fragile. We are not as separate from one another as we once thought.

Indeed we are all connected all around the earth. Let something happen in China and we will experience it here. If we thought that we had no impact on the health of the environment, we can lay that fallacy to rest. It is clear that what we do impacts the earth and all that is upon it. What is important is not our ideology but rather dialogue. Instead of polarization we realize the strong value of community. Indeed we are made for community. Instead of forgetfulness of God, we now look to God for strength, life and wisdom. Our need for God and a life of meaning and order based on peace and justice is now very clear.

We have broken open to our true selves.

We are painfully aware of the fact that we need each other. We have opened to the realization that we are indeed One World. As we heal, we need to pray and not forget what we have learned from being broken open. We are, of course in many ways, still broken open and that will continue for some time. There is a challenge before us as we move ahead. We are in process of healing and part of that healing is to remember the lessons and values that we have learned. When we feel strong again we must not go back to “business as usual” and engage in behavior that forgets what we have learned, namely the importance of persons, community and care of the earth. We will need to work to make our world strong by supporting the health and well being of systems that can sustain us. That work involves putting into place working structures for the health and economic well being of all. Realizing we are one world and one planet means that we can not do anything less. These lessons need to be incorporated into new responses if we are to learn from the present and move forward into a stronger, safer, saner future.

Part of our healing is the realization that we all belong to God.

To belong to God means that we are all connected to God and that we can not live full and healthy lives, nor have a healthy planet, without the ethics and practices that flow out of our faith traditions. All of these traditions, functioning at their best, are reminders that we are one people, living in one world, on one planet.

Wisdom understands that everyone is connected to everyone and that everything in Creation is connected to everything else. This is the wisdom that was reflected in the words of thepsalmist who wrote: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and those who live in it.” (Ps. 24:1)

About Rev. Larry Deyss, HR

Larry Deyss is Pastor Emeritus of the Delmar Presbyterian Church where he served for 30 years, a past moderator of Albany Presbytery and currently a member of the Peacemaking Task Force with a focus on environmental issues. He and his wife live in Delmar.

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