Today marks an interesting convergence: the celebration of Earth Day and the conclusion of the National Days of Remembrance, an annual week-long commemoration of the Holocaust established by Congress and facilitated by the US Holocaust Museum. Like an eclipse, today’s dual observances conjoin the beauty of the earth and the ugliness of the world in a spectacular and even frightening way–should we choose to take notice. It is a reminder that, as creatures and members of God’s creation, we human beings are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139.14).
As I have reflected and pondered the beauty and travesty that is our world in preparation for worship this morning, I have remembered a poem I wrote ten years ago in the summer of 2002. It was part of an assignment for a seminary class I was taking on the Psalter. I can clearly recall the afternoon I hashed it out, though I have hardly thought of it since I handed it in and moved on to the next task on that term’s syllabus. Re-reading it, I’m not entirely sure why I should be remembering it. Perhaps it is God moving in one of God’s many mysterious ways. Perhaps it is because verse (even second-rate verse) is the most appropriate response we mortals can muster when confronted with both grandeur and tragedy. For whatever it’s worth, I would like to submit it once again as a humble offering of celebration and solemn remembrance of all that we observe today.
From this pale, cracked seat
On this soda-stained carpet
Through this spotted, grimy window
I give you thanks, O LORD,
and I give You praise
for the words Your hands
sculpted to life,
imbuing the world with the color and texture
granting all of Your children
access to the beauty of the sky
and the comfort of the breeze:
a sublime quelling
of privilege’s uprising.