Most of Saturday, I had a sense of unrest. Initially, I couldn’t define it, but it was something that I couldn’t shake. It was the recurring thought: “Perhaps, despite our hopes for the best, the humpty-dumpty like brokenness that surrounds our nation may continue to escalate rather than subside”. Often, anger and dissatisfaction take a life of their own and like sour dough bread (pardon the pun), they can be duplicated by one person sharing a “start” with another.
I went into Austin Saturday morning to make a hospital visit. When I left St. David’s Hospital, I drove south on Red River Street in the direction of downtown. Have you heard the expression: “I was at the wrong place at the right time?” Well, that was irrefutably my experience on Saturday.
It was strictly by happenstance, but I found myself on the periphery of downtown Austin when 50,000 angry women intent on participating in a protest march were making their way into downtown. Frankly, the signage and the crowds of people already on the sidewalks startled me.
As I sat at a traffic light watching people walk across the intersection in front of my car, I had the thought, “What a great day to be out for a walk! The weather was absolutely perfect. It really was a terrific day. Most of those walking were carrying signs, so I intuitively knew this wasn’t just a walk. As I looked at the crowds making their way down the sidewalks, I wondered how many would have that same fortitude if the weather had been seasonally appropriate. Who’s to say? It could well be the same number.
“Our world is on fire and man without God will never be able to put out the flames”. It has been over fifty years since Billy Graham crafted that line for the introduction to his book World Aflame, but his words have never been truer.
In the past couple of days, Dan Rather’s professionally crafted written comments concerning the inauguration and the division within our nation have circulated like wildfire and thoughtfully so. Consequently, I want to highlight the introductory paragraph because the content is such that individuals on both sides of the division will agree with the observation and accuracy. It is not my intent to comment or make value judgments related to the bent he subsequently shares in his reflections. However, his introductory paragraph is one few will find disagreeable. His observations seem sound. The rest of his diatribe is subject to dispute depending on your frame of reference and your perception. It is not my intent to either affirm or object to his analysis. Though I have thoughts of my own, I have no comment to make regarding either.
He writes: “ And so it begins – Of the nearly 20 inaugurations I can remember, there has never been one that felt like today. Not even close. Never mind the question of the small size of the crowds, or the boycott by dozens of lawmakers, or even the protest marches slated for tomorrow across the country. Those are plays upon the stage. What is truly unprecedented in my mind is the sheer magnitude of quickening heartbeats in millions of Americans, a majority of our country if the polls are to be believed, that face today buffeted within and without by the simmering ache of dread. I have never seen my country on an inauguration day so divided, so anxious, so fearful, so uncertain of its course…”
I awakened Sunday morning shortly after 2:00 a.m. The sense of unrest that I had carried with me throughout the day before was back. Only this time it was interfering with my sleep. Despite attempts to fall back to sleep, I thought about our nation. I moved from that to thinking about work related issues. I thought about the future. I thought about many things. Through it all, sleep didn’t come. All of my thoughts served to keep me awake.
I subsequently winced when the grandfather clocks in our home struck thee times and an hour later subsequently struck four times. The intermingling of all the issues, problems, divisions and assertions felt like too much for me to cognitively process, so I decided to give my mind a rest. I don’t have the wherewithal to offer a workable solution to any number of things. I hate the expression: “It is what it is”, but how do you argue with that concept? Like sour dough bread, once a starter has been handed off to another person intent on lighting the same fire, it gets out of hand. I can promise you that the smoke will at least burn your eyes, if not consume you.
Finally, it was a Scripture that I had shared last week at a memorial service that flooded my memory and provided the antidote I needed for my insomnia. It comes from the 46th Psalm: “God is a refuge and strength, a present help in time of trouble”. What more do we need to know?
Like I said, “I don’t have the wherewithal to even know where to begin in putting all the things that are broken in our lives back together again”. Like the childhood story of Humpty-Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty-Dumpty back together again. Left to our own devices, that is an accurate assessment of our circumstances.
In the final analysis, the solution may be as simply as the words of the Psalmist in chapter 45, verse 10: “Be still, and know that I am God.” The mandate to “be still” carries with it more than simply being motionless. It carries with it the connotation of feeling relaxed, at ease, and confident of God’s presence. Being still is linked to the awareness that He is God.
All My Best!