Day 2

As I was cloistered with the Disciples ministry committee that would decide on my standing as a clergywoman, none of us was aware that the world was being ripped apart by senseless violence, this time visited on the iconic city of Paris, no stranger to occupation as warring political forces in Europe had invaded France time and time again in the latter part of the nineteenth century and during World War Two.

It called to mind the poem, “The Second Coming,” by W.B. Yeats, written in 1919 after the close of “The Great War,” so called because their belief was that this war would be the last one the world would know. Here are his words trying to make sense of the literal hell Europe, joined later by the United States, went through with the devastation this “Great War” wrought:


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Here we are – yet again—almost a century after this poem was penned. Things are still falling apart, the center cannot hold, and, as evidenced a few days ago in Paris, “mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” This “anarchy” has also been loosed in Syria, where hundreds of thousands are fleeing for their very lives, leaving everything they know behind in hopes that someone, somewhere, will let them in. But mostly all we are willing to do is say a prayer or two then get back to our own lives.

But this “darkness drops again,” “slouching towards Bethlehem”, where there is nothing to stop its wholesale predations but a “rocking cradle,” where the newborn child, falls asleep to its mother’s soft voice.

The darkness is getting darker, Paris, “the city of light,” has dimmed its lamps and pulled tight the curtains on its homes. We stand by, this world community, in silent witness, but we are offered a choice. Do we meet darkness, yet again, with darkness or do we dare to light a candle, flickering and faint at first, until enough of us join together to light up the world and bring to maturity the promise of the birth of this small child that peace is stronger than war, that we are all one world, one people?

I for one choose to light my one small candle and invite others to do the same.



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