“Life is short
And we do not have too much time
To gladden the hearts
Of those who travel the way
So make haste to love
And be swift to be kind.”*
This was the favorite blessing
Of someone I once knew.
A friend of a friend – you know the sort.
Someone who just seemed to embody
The very best the world had to offer
Not someone who was perfect –
We all have our feet of clay
But someone who was nevertheless
In constant renewal
And who was a source
Of constant renewal in others.
You know, when I think of renewal,
It really goes hand in hand with hope
I can see them from here, walking on the beach
Hope and Renewal
Renewal and Hope
Hope spawns Renewal
Renewal breeds Hope
And after them comes Healing
Walking so close behind
The surf hasn’t completely erased
The double print of footsteps
But they’re not just walking down a beach
I mean, that’s not all they do
All day long.
Mostly they dance
Sometimes around a bonfire
But mostly with their counterparts
Truth and Reality
And you’d think that maybe
Truth and Reality are wearing
And that Brokenness probably has
A matted beard and a twisted spine
But that’s not true
Because how would they dance?
And they dance.
No, what I see on the beach
Are 21st century throwbacks
To the great existentials of Greek philosophy
You can see them in togas,
Justice, blindfolded with her scales
Truth, with her sword, sometimes with her flaming sword
Liberty, with her light
Death, with his scythe
There are others – just tour around
Our nation’s capital
And give a close look
To the stoic statuary and you’ll
Meet the face of Youth,
Hope, and Sacrifice, among
Their other friends, loitering outside
The Temple to Lincoln by the Potomac
And so leaving Washington,
what we have on that beach is
Reality, with a pair of glasses on
So he can better see what the rest of us try to ignore.
We have Truth, but she’s put away her sword
Truth is embracing nonviolent conflict resolution these days
And so she carries with her a microphone instead
So you can hear her at the back of the crowd
Even with out your hearing aid
And then we have Brokenness
Who is intentionally beautiful
Because when you get down to it,
We all are, each one of us, no matter what we look like
Or how we walk, or don’t walk,
How we talk, which language we use, or if we sign
We are all devastatingly beautiful
But she holds her heart in her hands,
Bound in razor wire.
And then there is Renewal, with his potted plant
A gardener at heart, perhaps, but always ready to
Encourage something to healthy new growth
Be it plant, or animal, human or idea
And then there is Hope.
She’s abandoned her anchor, so few of us sail these days
The metaphor doesn’t work anymore
But she’s taken up a blog.
And so she carries her MacBook with her
And asks the barista if they have wifi
Because she is behind a movement
A groundswell of one person
Joining many people
To see reality, voice the truth
Acknowledge the brokenness
Seek the renewal, and step forward in hope.
Which brings us to Healing.
Healing just has his hand out,
Reaching to someone else
And so they dance,
They dance together
Around a bonfire, on a beach
To a song on the radio in your neighbor’s backyard
In homeless shelters
In my life
In your life
Occasionally in Congress
Reality, Truth, and Brokenness
Are dancing with Renewal, Hope, and Healing
And God is looking
And God is smiling.
*The above blessing was a favorite of the late Rt. Rev. Jim Kelsey, deceased bishop of the diocese of Northern Michigan in The Episcopal Church. He was a good guy.