Monday, September 10, 2007

What Value a Soul...

The chapel was darker than normal...and the Easter candle was present and lit. Quietly, from our places of study, or rest, or exercise, or fellowship, our community made its way like a medieval cadre toward the light of the candle. A momentary pause to remind ourselves of grace by touching water to our forehead, core, and right then left breast. Another momentary pause to set ourselves aside for this office we're about to undertake...set ourselves aside by honoring the altar instead of ourselves. And then to our seats...

...safe and comfortable, wrapped in the warmth and glow of the Easter candle and all it represents. So very unlike those souls I saw perishing before me on the screen as the decision to tumble from the doomed building was carried out. So very unlike the souls tonight who sleep in fear of terror, whether in New York or London, or the sandy ways of the Middle East, or the heartland of America. Whether their trembles come from fear of the unimagined next iteration of "plane as bomb", or the unwavering attack of another military action, or the need to carry out another military action in response to one's duty to country, or fear of a loved one's safety who is half way around the world carrying a weapon. So many souls... so much fear... so much need for peace...

...and we sing Where hate and fear divide us and bitter threats are hurled, in love and mercy guide us and heal our strive torn world... and cry out in chanted meter, "When I call, answer me, O God of justice." Yes... in the recesses of our heart we scream ANSWER ME! ANSWER ME, will you? I don't understand, I cannot see... where is justice, where is love, where is peace?

...and again we sing deliver EVERY nation, Eternal God we pray... and somewhere within our heart finds the temptation to say, "Yes... deliver every nation, find some way, won't you, to restore peace? To bring family and friends home, to restore families and lives destroyed in thousands of ways...on all sides of the conflict. Deliver us all, Eternal God we pray"

When hope and courage falter, Your still small voice be heard; with faith that none can alter, uphold us by Your word.

And I gaze upon the Easter candle, and bend my voice into the prayer my brothers and I pray... and realize that through the ages, men have prayed in this way... wondering... waiting... watching...

Two thousand nine hundred and eighty five. Right? The number of souls that perished on that day? And how many since? And how many lives destroyed, and families ripped apart? What value a soul? What price can we put on that life? Just one of them... that first one I saw tumble to the hard, cold pavement? What price?

My prayer seems insufficient. The lighted Easter candle seems dim in comparison. My bow, my untrained mode at chant. What value that soul - I don't know, but certainly more than I can pay. "Yes", I hear from my Friend. "More than you can repay. So, does that mean you get off the hook with a few words, a bow, a song?"

No, my Friend. But, all I have to offer is a prayer. Clinging like a baby to a promise for the peace that will one day come, I say, "Peace be with you". And I say it to all, as representative of my intention, and my Friend's. And I shut my mouth, and make my bow, and walk silently away into the world in which I can pray in a different way... and if I've understood my Friend rightly, the prayer of my words will become the prayer of my actions.

What value a soul? Just one... just one who died on that day?

Keep bright in us the vision
Of days when wars shall cease,
When hatred and division
Give way to love and peace.

1 comment:

Peggy Carter said...

I am so glad to read this today. So touched. Remembrance anew. I love your heart! Mom