Thursday, April 26, 2007

"...all over this land..."

"...If I had a hammer
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
All over this land
I'd hammer out danger
I'd hammer out a warning
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land..."

- Hays/Seeger

Do you ever watch the news…CNN, MSNBC, or my favorite BBCNews on Public Television, and feel overwhelmed by the barrage of mind-reeling images and heart-wrenching information that comes out of that black box…flat screen or now, almost antique tube-style?   Have you ever wished that the NY Times you have delivered to your doorstep on Sunday mornings, pieced together from random pages scattered through the coffeehouse after church, or read online after midnight, would come wrapped in a "the contents of this package may be hazardous to your peace " disclaimer?

This past month, NPR, CNN, BBC, and NYT have had me on my knees in prayer.  My favorite news source,
The Christian Science Monitor, has been like a good friend standing over me in the bathroom holding my hair, whispering messages of comfort, hope and encouragement when my stomach is unsettled…but still, I am a venerate news hound and I want to hear more perspectives...however disquieting.  Thankfully, I am also a passionate metaphysician and when I can stay clearly focused on seeing that every image, every piece of news coming at me is just an opportunity to "hammer" out each dull cold lump of information into an exercise in using my spiritual ocular muscles more effectively in seeing God in all things…I feel, not overwhelmed, but empowered.

Finding God expressing Himself as compassion in the tenderness of a soldier who is caring for an Iraqi child, finding Him as Mind when I hear about a senator who has been inspired to sponsor a wise bill, finding Her as Soul when I see beauty in the face of a mother who has expressed mercy at the sentencing of her child's murderer…these are small ways that I can ring my own bell of freedom.  In those moments, I am no longer the victim of my world, but sitting at the feet of its Master, letting his calm eyes hold my gaze and His strong hand on my shoulder tell me He is there…I need not be afraid. 
As most of my readers know there is always a song behind any mental image I hang onto and find useful as I navigate this spiritual journey.  My news feasting experiences are no different.  As a veteran of the anti-war 60s and the bra-burning 70s, my songs of protest are usually folk songs.  Joni Mitchell, The Weavers, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, and Pete Seeger fill my sign-carrying, chain-myself-to-the-front-columns-of-the-Pentagon heart.

"...If I had a bell
I'd ring it in the morning
I'd ring it in the evening
All over this land
I'd ring out danger
I'd ring out a warning
I'd ring out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land..."

As part of our Sunday routine, Jeff and I start our morning with a two hour walk in the park, which includes a detour for church and then back onto the pathways through our neighborhood's large university campus, down to "The Loop."  This is our city's happening stretch of coffeehouses, performing arts venues, restaurants, galleries, cool shops and your "throw one in for good" tattoo parlor (it's where I got mine!), and arts cinema.  We make our way through the neighborhood on a pathway that literally pours us out onto "The Loop" like small children coming down a slide into a university playground…music, costumes, discourse…a paradise for old hippies…like us.

Our favorite Sunday morning coffeehouse (as opposed to our favorite afternoon and evening coffeehouse a block from our home) is Meshuggah.  It's eclectic, political, quirky, and they make a great cup of hot chocolate.  But most importantly, they offer a first glance through the
Sunday New York Times…if you can gather its crumpled and coffee stained body parts and put it back into some sense of order.  Rather, to use a metaphor inspired by my friend Maria, like picking up pieces of straw from the picked apart scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz" and poking it into the right places so that he can stand up and find his voice. 

As I retrieved a bit from one table with my "Hi, are you finished with the front page..." the man who handed it to me said, "I hope you haven't eaten this morning…it's a tough day for news and it might upset your stomach."  And I replied with a smile, "Oh, I'm going to pray my way through this one, I'm sure there's something there to remind me that God is present in the world today!"

As I returned to our table my folkie roots took hold and the first strains of Lee Hays and Peter Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer" started popping through the dark soil of my news day.  I felt empowered by what I could bring to the table…I could hammer out, from the steely images of apathy and hopelessness, some instance of compassion strengthened by a harsh experience on the Gaza Strip revealing the tempered steel of humanity's potential.  I was going to hear soft the "bell of justice" in the way a judge ruled fairly even when the world would have applauded a harsher response.  I would sing a song that warned of the danger of losing our "true north"…kindness, trust, respect for free moral agency…by singing about the love between my brothers and my sisters…rather than celebrating the kind of gossip-mongering, judgmental cannibalism I could have become disheartened by on the society and opinion pages.

"...If I had a song
I'd sing it in the morning
I'd sing it in the evening
All over this land
I'd sing out danger
I'd sing out a warning
I'd sing out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land..."

So, for this folkie, I have a hammer, a bell and a song…but most importantly, I have what each of these instruments of change represent to me…I have a prayer….so does our world.

"...Well I've got a hammer
And I've got a bell
And I've got a song to sing
All over this land
It's the hammer of justice
It's the bell of freedom
It's the song about love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land."

This Sunday--when you read the paper or watch "Meet the Press"--sing, pray, ring, and hammer…"about the love between your brothers and your sisters…all over this land."

I'll be listening,

1 comment:

  1. Dear Kate,
    Your last two blogs have encouraged me to love more. The picture of the boy with his lamb has remained near the forefront of my thought the last two days reminding me that praying for the world is not just matter of social responsibility but of love. I used to think that "falling in love" was reserved for romances. Tuesday's blog about your daughters so wonderfully suggests that we can fall in love over and over again and with many people. Wouldn't it be great if we would allow ourselves to regularly fall in love with everyone we see and think about. I need to make sure I don't categorize how I love people and simply rejoice in their amazing individuality--love my husband without trying to fit my affections into the mould of a spouse, my children without the preconceptions of motherhood, my friends and neighbors without conventions and stereotypes. I'm looking forward to falling in love with the world.