Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Mary and the Tsunami

Mary and the Tsunami

Again and again I have heard folks ask how God could "do this" to the people who died in the Tsunami. I should point out, that as Terry Jones of Monty Python said in a recent interview, as many civilians have died in the joint US British invasion of Iraq and I have yet to hear the same folks ask the how God of that, but be that as it may...

This past first day the words of two Medieval carols became very present in my mind. Both say close to the same thing... the parts important here are,

Suddenly she, abashed truly, but not all thing dismayed
With mind discreet and meek spirit to the angel she said
With what manner should I child bear, the which ever a maid
Have lived chaste all my life past and never a man assayed.

Thou shalt conceive in thy body, very God himself


Then again to the angel she answered womanly
whatever my lord command me do, I will obey meekly
Ecce sum humilimma ancilla Domini
Secundum verbum tuum, she said fiat mihi.

the last line translating: Behold the handmaid of the lord, be it unto me according to thy word

My message began that Mary got in the way of the genitive intentions of God.

Now, this is a complicated thought. I agree with Hannah Bernard, at the beginning of the Hicksite/Orthodox schism, that this does not mean to me that God was born on earth to a virgin, as Hannah said, paraphrasing by memory "as a woman I find this unlikely."

But, it is a powerful thing that happened. An unwed young woman at a time when unchaste behavior could be punished by death, and in the best cercumstances of the day, death was a huge risk in child birth. Mary is faced with that overpowering contradiction. On one hand the strong likelihood of death and on the other love of what is in the process of coming to be, and trust in the intention of God in the process of creation with the accompanying destruction -be it unto me according to thy word.

In this there is the echo of Job and the trial of God at Auschwitz.

The outcome of Mary placing herself with loving resignation in God's way was to her sorrow after sorrow, I am sure. To see a son killed by her people's Roman oppressors is a horror I have seen in the eyes of too many I have met over the years who's children were destroyed for the crime of getting in the way of the occupying armies of large and aggressive nations such as the United States, Britain, Russia, Germany and on and on... But, as with Dr. Martin Luther King, as with Rosemary Nelson and Patrick Finucan, as with Anne Frank, their murder becomes a road to understanding God in totality.

God did not pull the trigger which took from the world Dr. King or Pat Finucan. God did not wire the bomb that stilled the voice of Rosemary Nelson, God did not come for Anne Frank. God did not send a wave to kill hundreds of thousands of people. Humankind is formed with free will and greed and in that monstrous nations have devoured the noble, the kind, the meek and loving with cold hearted viciousness. But humanity is also given the great gift of empathy. In the balance between these to human parts is the choice between extinction and salvation of our kind.

The destruction of the good by the cold heart of the state, the execution of a Rabbi so long ago, brought the world the wisdom of Hillel as well as a model to understand the love of God. It also has brought the hateful interpretation of Jesus' teachings which led to the killing of Jesus' own people for centuries, the burning of those who understood "Christian" teaching differently, the present belief held by some that destruction of the environment is not wrong as God gave us just enough use to get us to the rapture which they believe is almost here - a theology of salvation through extinction of humanity (and some people are afraid of our Moslem brothers and sisters!!!)

God is a process of death and growth... be it unto me according to thy word - to have the faith and humility to say, I don't understand fully, but I put myself in thy way. I would hope to have the strength to fight for my life against a raging tide, as so many stories to come out of this disaster have provided us, the fisherman clinging for days to the overturned boat, the swim suit model, who in spite of her injuries clung to a tree and clung to life. But, I also would hope to have the spirit of Mary to say, - unto me according to thy word.

As new land emerges from the sea, should I get in the way, of course I would want to survive, but who am I to ask that the earth which was formed that we could live on it, should now stop living and growing to accommodate me. I can't ask why God allows this to happen, I thank God for the gift of empathy, which calls so many to help.

My prayer is that our empathy stops the occasion of war, that we don't need to ask God to stay his hand for, we need only stay our own hands.


Post a Comment

<< Home