It's The End of the World
I've been doing a lot of thinking about the end of the world, lately.
Only not the end of the world in a disaster movie, Walking Dead TV show, Left Behind book series kind of sense... I'm talking about the end of the world we left behind in March---when the quarantined began, and coronavirus sent us sheltering in place.
When I was in seminary we were required in just about every class I took to write "reflection" papers about our reading, discussions, theological issues, biblical passages, ministry contexts, etc.
I felt like I was reflecting all of the time---so much so that I began to wonder if there was ever a time when I was actually experiencing life without reflecting on it somehow for a class.
Funny that. It took me a few years to learn, but at one point I realized that all of those exercises had shaped the way I saw the world. I also realized I couldn't shut it off.
I remember one of my seminary professors (I can't remember which one now) demanding of us that we "think theologically" about the various current event topics we discussed in class.
So every day I wake up and try to follow that advice---to do my best to see the "thing under the thing," as Rob Bell once put it.
And what I see going on right now in our world, in our country... it does feel apocalyptic. It does feel like a disaster movie. Or like the plagues of Egypt.
The truth of the matter is that what we are experiencing is an end of the world--at least the world we used to know.
But even though this particular end came in an unprecedented form, and with an unprecedented response does not mean it's anything new.
The poet Rebecca Lindenberg once wrote:
Worlds just keep on ending andI think that most of the time, we need to be moved in order for us to keep walking toward the future. We have a tendency to want to stay where we are shaping the narrative of our present by dwelling in our carefully reconstructed past. Even if it's not comfortable, at least it's familiar.
ending, ask anybody who survived...
But when there's nothing to return to, no way back to where we came... there is only forward into the unknown. James Baldwin once wrote:
I am saying that a journey is called that because you cannot know what you will discover on the journey, what you will do with what you find, or what you find will do to you.We have been thrust into a journey toward the new world. The old world, just like all the old worlds before it, has ended. But there are visions of the new world that are life-giving and hopeful.
In spite of everything that is going on around us, in spite of the death of what was, we can live in the hope that every step we take toward the future is a step toward a better world than the one that has passed.
And perhaps in the new world, we will learn to love one another more. Perhaps we will learn that tolerance is not a virtue, solidarity and empathy are. Perhaps we will learn that we are all one, and we need each other---just as God created us.
I don't know about you, but that's enough to get me walking.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.