A Long Winter

Typically, by this time of year, the number of refugees crossing the Mediterranean from the northern coast of Africa would have subsided. Rough waters brought on by winter winds and currents would decrease traffic on the sea. However this year, the rush of immigrants continues at an alarming pace, resulting in a higher number of dead and missing persons lost to the cold waters than ever before.

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Random Acts of Violence

I saw a news report of a man who approached a perfect stranger and punched him in the face. The stranger fell to the ground, never getting up, while the man walked calmly away.

The man who received the blow later died in a local hospital. The man who delivered the blow is still walking for all we know.

I saw a video of a refugee rubber raft that pulled alongside a large vessel in the Mediterranean Sea. While a sailor on the top deck shot the video with his phone, the refugees scraped and clawed to get off the raft and onto the rope ladders hanging from open doors on the port side of the ship. By the end of the short 10-minute video, the raft was sinking, debris littered the water, and the sailor was calmly pointing out drowning and dead bodies.

A man in Yemen lost 27 family members in a single airstrike that hit his home during dinner.

A church burns in Mississippi.

A woman is taken.

A child is abused.

What is our response? How do we act in the face of these stories? They happen while we sleep, literally and figuratively. They’ve become background noise to our busy and toy-filled lives. Random, unwarranted, hateful, hurtful, devastating acts of violence.

It leaves us shaking our heads, bemoaning the state of the world and asking the question, “What can I do?” Of course, the better question, is one we never ask ourselves, “What will I do?”

What in the World are We Doing?

Turn on the news. Open the paper. We see it every day and as history repeats itself, so does the brokenness and pain.

Violence, war, and refugees. Skittles, vitriol, and isolationism. Repeat.

Racism, division, and hate. Take a knee, shoot a man, and riot. Repeat.

Over crowded jails, underfunded schools, and broken communities. Corporate greed, disconnected parents, and political self-interest. Repeat.

What are we doing? Can’t we break the cycle? Can’t we change history? Isn’t there a better option?

Love, listen, and learn. Weep with the hurting, embrace the broken, love our brothers and sisters. Repeat.

 

 

Peaceful Planet

harmony-1006179_1920.pngIs a Peaceful Plant possible? Is it a lofty goal? Is it unrealistic? Is it foolishness? Is it a lost cause?

Some may answer, Yes. Give up. It’s a fool’s errand. There’s no point in moving forward or trying to change the course of human history. They’ll always hate one another and there will forever be war, strife, and hatred. Whether Hebrew and Arab. Black and White. Islam and Christian. The reality is the same. There is no point in trying.

Some may answer, No. Never give up. Only a fool would stop. The goal of peace is never one to forsake. Perhaps, with a little more effort and the right set of circumstances we might uncover the answer to war, strife, and hatred. Whether Sunni or Shiiat. Democrat or Republican. Russian or American. There is every point in trying. Why wouldn’t make every effort to save humanity from itself? For our nation? For our state? For our children? For our future?

If you chose the first option, you are free and clear. You’ve forsaken any obligation you might have to saving the human race from itself. No further action is required. The world will continue to spin out of control with violence and bloodshed the final result, no thanks to you.

If you chose the second option, if you see light at the end of the very dark tunnel, then a series of questions must be asked, “What are you doing to change it? What conversations are you having? What relationships are you building? What answers are you seeking? What difference are you making?”

Perhaps the change will come slow but it must begin…and soon. Will you help change the world? Will you help make a peaceful planet?

Fear v Faith

“Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” – Mark 4:39b

The wind is blowing. The storm is raging. The waves are crashing. The boat is rocking. The disciples are cowering.

But Jesus sleeps on; not a care in the world.

It is a dark time. It is a scary moment. Those in the boat, fishermen and laborers, tax collectors and zealots, men from all walks of life have heard the stories of sailors lost at sea. They knew men who went down with their ships in the course of earning their living. They’d comforted widows and orphans of fishermen who never returned. They’d retold the tales and shared the stories. And now they were living their worst nightmare. They were thinking of their own families they would leave behind. They knew they were the ones in peril.

To make matters worse, Jesus didn’t seem to be aware of their plight. He was oblivious to their condition. They were distressed by his disregard. They were concerned about his casual carriage. And they yell out of their fear, “…do you not care that we are perishing?” Not about to perish but perishing. Not heading for trouble but in trouble. Not approaching danger but in the middle of it. We Are Perishing! We are already dead men and you don’t even care.

Isn’t that how it feels today? The winds of racial divide are blowing. The storm of uncontrolled gun violence is raging. The waves of anger and hatred are crashing. Our global boat is rocking and we are cowering in fear, with no hope in site.

And yet, the master of the sea replies, “Why are you afraid?” The creator of the wind asks, “Have you no faith?”

He announced, “Peace” and there was calm. He rebuked the chaos and all was still.

Do you live in a state of fear or faith? Where is your focus? Are your eyes on the waves, or the one who calms them? Are you listening to the wind or the words that bring peace?

Planting Seeds

 

I2015.01.14 1121f you plant an apple seed, tend it well, prune appropriately and care for the flowers, you would expect nothing less than a good crop of apples. A cherry pit should provide a tree full of red fruit. A peach tree should only produce peaches. It is what is expected.

One would never look to an apple tree for a banana, or a palm tree for grapes. Seeds produce fruit of their own kind. We expect nothing less.

Yet, somehow, we are surprised when words of hatred, anger, bitterness, and violence are planted and do not reap a harvest of love, unity, and peace. How is it possible that we do not understand that the seeds we plant will produce its own crop? And are we unaware that a single seed, a lone grain once planted will produce a great number of seeds in turn?

One word of hatred does not result in one hateful act, but can sprout many. One act of injustice does not grow one isolated action but produces many.

Thankfully this truth applies to those acts of kindness, those words of love, those seeds of hope that we plant. For every gracious deed, many sprout. For every word of gratitude spoken, many take root.

We all plant seeds every day and the harvest we reap is the fruit of that labor, for good or for evil.

What harvest are you reaping today? What seeds will you plant tomorrow?