Transition ceremonies for the inauguration of a new president of the United States have already begun. The early morning news is reporting the use of pepper spray by police to quell what seemed to portend a violent protest. Today begins in trepidation and – for me – sadness that we are in such a position of fear of disruption and disrespect from within our own country as well as from foreign terrorists. I have not been enamored of every president who has been elected during my life but I learned early on to respect the office. “How have we come to this?” I ask myself. The only answer I am able to offer myself is: “It’s not that simple.”
There’s no sense in wringing our hands and longing for “the old days.” I find it ironic that the refrain for lectionary psalm for the morning, Psalm 85, announces that kindness and truth shall meet. The verses 11-14 that appear tell us that justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth and justice shall look down from heaven, promising also that the Lord himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase. Justice shall walk before him, and salvation, along the way of his steps.
It seems impossible even to conjecture how that might happen here and now for us, in this “winter of our discontent.” There is so much division in the country; what will heal us? “Well, nothing but every person’s recognition and responsible participation,” I hear as I read the gospel acclamation: God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Call me Pollyanna if you will; I know that unity in this “land of opportunity” seems a far distant goal at the moment. What I believe, however, is that if I work toward reconciliation inside myself as well as in all the situations and with all the people in my life, by acting with love as the impetus and prayer for unity as the guiding principle of each day, I will have done my part. And I trust that I will continue to find like-minded people willing to do the same. In that way we will undoubtedly, someday, reach “critical mass” and see the renewal of justice and peace.
May God bless our efforts and our country today and in the days to come!