Balancing Upon a Broken World

This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight;
The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves;
The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves,
And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.
Under a tree in the park,
Two little boys, lying flat on their faces,
Were carefully gathering red berries
To put in a pasteboard box.
Some day there will be no war,
Then I shall take out this afternoon
And turn it in my fingers,
And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate,
And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves.
To-day I can only gather it
And put it into my lunch-box,
For I have time for nothing
But the endeavour to balance myself
Upon a broken world.

~Amy Lowell, “September, 1918” from The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell

Am I the only one who awakes this morning with a prayer
asking that today be the start of healing
rather than conflict and hostility and pain,
that the barbaric destruction of yesterday
transform to reconciliation and understanding–

no more angry mobs,
no more inciting speeches,
no more windows bashed,
no more doors breached,
no more explosives hidden away,
no more conspiracies hatched,
no more untruths believed as gospel…

no more rising infection counts
no more overflowing ICUs
no more mounting deaths…

Am I the only one who awakes this morning with a prayer
to seek only
to celebrate the sunrise
to watch the clouds glide past
to praise God in His heaven
to watch His Light slowly replenish itself
after weeks – no, months – no, years – no, decades
of darkness,

to take out this one day and taste it
and find that it is good,
especially in the midst of deprivation
then put it away for self-keeping
to share when and if I find someone else
as hungry for grace and mercy as I am,

so as to balance myself somehow
in the beauty of this world while
teetering on its brokenness?

I am not the only one.

I know I am not.

Shaking the Tree

First I shake the whole Apple tree, that the ripest might fall. Then I climb the tree and shake each limb, and then each branch and then each twig, and then I look under each leaf.
~Martin Luther

Any election day in a free country can seem like a free-for-all, with the loudest citizens shouting their personal opinions far and wide.  Yet today every individual, even the smallest and meekest, has the opportunity to have their say, quietly and alone– a pas de deux between their ballot and them.

This particular free-for-all has lasted for months.  There is now nearly universal desire to just get it done, shaking the electoral apple tree so hard that ripe and bitter and green fall to the ground.  We then settle in and cope with whatever harvest we have reaped with our votes.  Sometimes we get near perfect fruit; other times we get rotten to the core.

Some citizens vote down party lines only; the quality of the candidate matters not as long as they have the right party affiliation.  Other citizens turn over every leaf in detailed scrutiny of each candidate’s history and qualifications.

I truly had to cover my eyes as I voted for some candidates.  Neither felt like a worthy choice to represent a country founded on the principles of religious freedom and escape from the tyranny of government in the lives of citizens.   We are indeed a confused and too angry people, divided and divisive, all shaking the tree for all its worth to see what’s in it for us, threatening the life of the tree itself.

May tomorrow be a day when we set the differences aside, working together to make applesauce, blending it together for the ultimate good of all.

That will be the day.