Monday, December 8, 2014


   "I can't breathe!"  These were Eric Garner's last words as he suffered the violent loss of his living spirit.

   The Bible describes God, when present among and within us, as God's Spirit.  At first, creation was so chaotic and violent that the newborn energy particles refused to join together to begin the process of producing atoms, molecules, elements, planets, flowers, animals and people.  But then, God breathed his Spirit (a "mighty wind") into creation (Gen. 1:2) and the universe began its evolutionary journey toward peace and wholeness in life and love.  We literally live and evolve because of God's breath.

   But breathing, life-giving evolution has its enemies.  Mr. Garner's death was not merely one isolated case in the daily life of our country.  His death occurred within a context, a structure of anti-evolutionary, lethal divisions in our society, e.g.,. between blacks and whites, rich and poor, the well and the sick, corporate executives and working people, our political parties, environmentalists and climate-change deniers, and in our social media.

   Some inequalities are normal in every society, but today's inequalities go beyond normal limits.  As a personal example, all the black families we know tell us they are living in real fear, especially for their young sons.  When we speak with them, they cry and embrace us. The adults even fear for themselves.  Two of our neighbors, seniors, went on a camping trip last week.  Arriving late, they stayed outside the campground for the night.  At 6:30 the next morning, the husband got up and went out to walk to the camp store to get the necessary entrance permit.  But before he got far from his camper, he stopped, went back and woke up his wife.  She asked him why he woke her up. He replied that he was afraid to walk alone to the camp store so early in the morning.  He said if she was with him, it would show that they were just campers.

   Let's face the truth squarely and openly.  We have come to the point in today's America where there are people whose lives mean nothing.  The present, separating and isolating structures of our society and culture are rotting away from within.  Ordinary citizens are literally in fear for their lives.  In many corporate boardrooms, executives and accountants are planning how to maximize profits to the detriment of the workers and the environment. Political leaders are depriving the poor of Medicare, and lying about climate change in order to protect favored industries. TV and radio personalities are prostituting themselves for the sake of a good paycheck--and would change their point of view immediately if they could get higher ratings and even greater paychecks.  And what can we say about those who actually believe the rot they preach?  In too many churches, clergy are stressing their authority and power instead of acting as Jesus did.  In all these devastating expressions of lethal, uncaring and even hateful individualism and separation, we are spiritually choking ourselves to death.

   W. B. Yeats, in his famous poem, "The Second Coming," lamented:
                      Things fall apart, the center cannot hold...
                      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
                      Are full of passionate intensity.

   Later, Yeats adds:  
                      Surely some new revelation is at hand.              

   Providentially, today's science is offering us a way to help cure the rotting.  Many scientists are discovering the deep, essential oneness of all reality--an insight of unity that escapes our society at large.  These scientists are telling us that there is one, living conscious universe that is made completely of energy.  What appears to be separate material things and people is the one universal energy making itself visible in these outward forms.  But our separateness is almost an illusion.  Yes, you and I are separate, unique persons, but down deep, we are really two expressions of the one energy that is the universe.  Our apparent separateness is not as real as our deep oneness.  At heart, we are all literally one.

   The insights of today's scientists closely match the message of Jesus that we are one, that we are to live in love, and that we be our brother's and sister's keepers in charity, i.e., even to the sacrifice of something of ourselves for our brothers and sisters.

   During Advent we pray for Emmanuel to come and save us.  Such a prayer is spiritually meaningful only if we remember that Emmanuel has already come.  The Spirit has been breathing within us for 13.8 billion years.  Christmas, Good Friday, Easter and Pentecost have been with us for 2000 years.  We are already called and empowered to build up, in every way we can according to our talents and possibilities, a society of wholeness in justice, peace, caring and love.  Only when we do this, only when we respond to the breathing of the Spirit, will we be able to breathe again.

   People are suffering.  Waiting is not an option..  

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