The events of September 11, 2001 brought about the deaths of more than 6,000 innocent people. That, and our response to it, sent nations into another new war.
In America we are incredibly fortunate, and blessed, in that there has never been a war on American soil since the Civil War. Back then they were shooting at each other with blunt cannon balls and musket balls. Compared to today, they might as well have been throwing rocks at each other across a fence. This war is utterly, unimaginably, different.
Today is the Sabbath day. I have a lot of work to do, and I’ve got my list. But first, I deserve to linger a while over my morning coffee. I am here on the back porch in a little patch of sunlight, sitting on the broad wooden porch rail. I’m taking some precious time for myself just to sit and have a moment that’s not stressed, not rushed, and not obligated, not “productive” in the work-sense. I’m surprised to find that this simplicity and gentle pleasure is still here for me, and I’m feeling very grateful for it.
Just in this moment, in spite of everything, I feel at peace. It has been quite a while since I felt it, and I recognize now, that this is a gift. Peace covers me very lightly, gentle and warm, like this morning sun.
Just in this moment, in spite of everything, I am not afraid. I could be. My life and the lives of friends and family have been profoundly changed this year by the visitation of illness and death in our personal world. And yet, somehow, after weeks and years of fears, just in this moment a little window of truth opened up, and somehow, I am done being afraid. Maybe not forever, but for now.
Here on the back porch it’s Indian Summer Sunday morning. I didn’t go to church, though I often do. I know that God is everywhere with me, all the time, and I don’t have to make an appointment or go to His place of business to connect with Him. In fact, I can never be unconnected from Him.
Speckled sunlight and shade through the little oak tree scatter a pretty pattern of shadows across my T-shirt and my arms. It’s quiet here. I begin to notice things– the joyful innocent little lives around me. A squirrel gingerly runs along the top of the fence from the tree to the garage like a tightrope walker, on a surface less than three-quarters of an inch wide. How does he do that? The sparrows in the scrub oak are busy with their commerce. My lazy overgrown garden dozes in the sun and waits for winter. Look! A hummingbird! Magical, impossible, glistening, vibrating tiny creature comes so close to visit the pink geraniums on the porch without any fear of me. I am not dangerous; she knows somehow. We are all here, together, in the morning of a new day.
Not very far away the freeway roars its perpetual dull-roar of engines and the sound of rubber tires on pavement. But here, even in the roar, there is a quiet, and somehow, amazingly, there is peace.
Just in this moment, I feel at peace. I am safe; I am loved. Whatever else is going on, out there, over there, where human beings kill and starve and torture each other, all of them claiming that God is on their side. They say they are doing those things for the glory of _________ (fill in the blank with the name of your special piece of God). And God looks on with infinite patience and infinite sorrow and infinite love for His foolish children.
There is just one God, no matter how many the manifestations. He/She does not belong to some of us and not to others; we all belong to God. God has not parceled Himself up into different pieces with different names to fight against Himself/Herself like that. War and killing– all this is not God’s idea, or God’s will, and to call it that is so clearly a lie. How can it be that so many people believe that?
We all know in every religion and faith, that God has given us free will and each and every one of us has free choice. That’s the deal, the terms of employment for the job of Human Being on planet earth. And what we choose, God’s universe always provides. He who lives by he sword, dies by the sword, etc. Every insane murderer, on some level believes he is right, believes he is the good guy killing the bad guy. But we don’t have to be insane too. We have a choice.
And so I have chosen peace, for here, for now. The beauty of God’s wondrous world is glory enough for me, and fame enough, and power enough, here in the back yard on this little street of multi-colored, honest, hardworking neighbors. God’s beautiful world lives in quiet glory here, with dogs barking, kids laughing, glittering autumn sunlight, and astonishing grace.