Saturday, November 21, 2015

Winter in our hearts

It's been a rough week, hasn't it?

I first learned of the Paris atrocities in an unlikely place: the grocery store. Like many shy people, I excel at eavesdropping, in putting together a story from mere scraps of conversation.

The story I put together was a horrible one. I don't have to tell you how awful it was in Paris last weekend. You've read the newspaper and seen the news.

As I continued to listen patiently, it was not hard to discern the opinions of the other grocery-buyers. The man two orders ahead of mine was particularly adamant: "Let's nuke 'em back to the Stone Age," he muttered, apparently unaware that an action like that would probably return all of us to the Stone Age. "It's those Arabs!" his wife exclaimed, lumping in many fine nationalities with a few terrorists. "They should stay in "Eye-rack!" "But they don't," her husband commented, both to her and to the family ahead of me in line. "That's why I've got my gun in the coat closet, all loaded up."

I despair sometimes. Between Coat-Closet-Gun-Guy's being all loaded up, Donald Trump's aim that all Muslims in America should be in a database, and Ben Carson's comparison of Syrian refugees to rabid dogs, I can't help thinking that we are just a few steps from requiring our Muslim neighbors to wear armbands with the crescent moon and star. Just this morning, one of the Republican wingnuts (I have forgotten which one -- they all blend together into a hate-filled slurry in my mind) -- stated that America should be promoting "Judeo-Christian values."

Give me a break. Hear that muffled sound of lament? That's Jesus weeping.

It's chilly outside this morning, with chillier weather expected this weekend. It's chilly in America, too. It's winter in our hearts already. How could this have happened? Of course terrorist attacks are horrible, but will we now pull our heads back into our protective shells, forgetting what we stand for? What happened to open-heartedness and willingness to help the downtrodden?

The heart of America has become like the rock pictured above: closed, hard, and cold to the touch. One of my favorite passages in the Hebrew Scriptures comes from Ezekiel 36:26, and goes like this:

                    A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from
                       your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 

We need those soft hearts, Lord.  We need them right now, before we freeze solid. 

Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.