On some days it seems there could not be a wilder clash of stories being told for our consumption, our persuasion, our conviction, our world view, our personal passion.
Reporters are passionate about the strange turns of our politics. A great silence had settled over certain stories in the news – which contained information that we might all have wanted to know for our decision-making about who should lead our country.
Now that the election has happened, and the electors have spoken, the curtain is being lifted about things we’d like to have known months earlier.
There are real questions of truth and falsehood that emerge. But, it’s too late to look at them calmly and together. The deed is done. Some kinds of pursuit would only lead to war, something none of us who care for our country, want to see. The time comes when, with grace and forgiveness, we need to choose ways that bring us together, taking hands, making the best of what is.
And one way to do that is to go deeper. To find elemental things that have the ring of eternity to them. That reach for the Divine. That are seen in acts of truth and humility.
Starting close at hand. Working with a friend. A different friend, who is of a different race. One who has suffered in ways we haven’t. Something some of us are trying to do through going to church to enter into the great tradition of the black churches. Ways that open our hearts to the avenues of the Spirit that have been the mark of the free-singing, body-swaying worship of the black churches of America.
Another way is to heed the gifts of the ordinary, of, if you will, the simple folk all around us.
There’s a man whose path crosses mine every day or two. He is an unprepossessing man of quiet demeanor. He wears cowboy boots and jeans. A plastic tube gives extra oxygen to his nostrils, rising from a thin box that hangs by a strap from his shoulder. He never comments on it, nor explains it.
He greets me by name whenever we pass each other in the halls. We wish each other well, and bless each other. I ask him about his wife whom he has usually been to visit across the street at our infirmary. She is there for memory loss. He is walking a lonely road, slowly losing the vibrant erect woman he has loved and served in a lifetime ministry of Christian faith.
He greeted me last week after chapel. We had both been touched by the contribution of two old men who had brought us THE WORD, one in scripture, the other in profoundly Christian poetry.
The first man is 100 years old. His wife of 75 years of marriage died two years ago. He carries on, reading the lessons to us in chapel once a week. He gives a little background first, then reads with clear voice and emphasis. His life was as a college professor of Rhetoric. He rings the bell of the Bible to us at chapel every Wednesday.
But, an added feature that day was another old man with generally wild white hair, who also had been a college professor. His wife had been the college chaplain. Our chaplain had invited him to read to us some of the poems he had written about PEACE for Christmas. With strong voice and gesture, he held forth. His too, was a deep, dramatic, stirring rendition.
His wife also, is across the street in memory care. In the elevator her husband tells me how it is. All three of these are men “of sorrow and acquainted with grief.”
This afternoon we watched, for a while, a recommended Christmas music program. Young men gave thoughtful, gospel words, related to a Christmas carol. They were young and bearded. They were photographed in Bethlehem alleyways and on Judean hillsides. Clever, fast-moving photography typified each scene, and the singing, and even the piano-playing on apparently, a plain of Bethlehem.
The enterprise must have cost the producers a fortune. The theme was to reach the growing young skeptics of our cynical age. It was too much.
At 91, I confess I am biased. I am skeptical that the arch photoshots, and impassioned expressions rendered by the young, black clothed, cool young people, playing their banjos and looking to the sky in the land of Jesus, would persuade the generation they purport to represent, to take up their cross, and follow Jesus.
Nor do their emotion-filled faces convince me that they have offered a saving answer to the Way of Truth, in our apparent age of too many lies.
Give me rather, the way of those simple but eloquent men who dare to walk the way they had never planned, of grief and loss, to find comfort and utter truth in the eternal WORD that was in the beginning and still rings true today, and sings a song from their own hearts of a truth and love that is the authentically “real thing” for a young generation seeking exactly authenticity of the kind that comes from a cross borne by a Babe of Bethlehem Who came to die for us all.
Love to you, my pals,
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES