I’ve had a bit of a theme running through the past several days of my thinking – and reflected somewhat in different ways in my writing. It started on Saturday where I heard Ezekiel asking God to “create a clean heart in me” and has had several threads constellating around the fact that my hope, not only for my own renewal but that of the world community, resides in large part in the young people of the world, especially those who have seen good in their elders. It may be a stretch to see the last five days like that but let me explain my reasons for that conclusion.
Things are looking pretty grim in the goings-on in the political discourse of the country, vilification being the order of the day as we come ever to closer November elections. Counteracting that, however, has been joy in interviews with Olympians – especially those still in or just out of their teens – who gushed with gratitude for the support they have had from family, coaches and just about everyone in the known world. And their generosity to one another, congratulating one another and even going as far as stopping after a fall to walk to the end of the race with the person over whom they had tumbled because she was hurt, has been heartbreakingly admirable.
Stories of corruption in our cities and even high in state government this past week make me wonder if we will ever have a functional polity again. But then there was the mayor of one of the cities in Louisiana who was asked last night as he was rescuing folks from their flooded homes whether his house had been flooded. He answered, “Yes, we have water. I’ll get to it when I can…” And then this morning I watched a short video about 100 college students, part of a program of Catholic Relief Services called Student Ambassador Leadership Training, who traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby their congresspersons on issues of human trafficking, climate change and refugee migration. Their stated purpose was to advocate to those in power in our government, “giving voice to the voiceless” because it was the right thing to do.
Examples of those who understand what it means to “lobby” God for a clean heart have been everywhere this week and prepared me for this day as I read the promise of God, again from Ezekiel.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees. You shall live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be my people and I will be your God. (EZ 36:23-28)
That’s a promise I can believe in and a world that I hope to see.