What Quake?

Facebookers on the west coast have had fun, good-naturedly chiding their east coast cousins. “A 5.8 magnitude earthquake—and you’re hyperventilating?” After all, the 7.0+ magnitude quakes Californians have lived with for decades do make the temblor in Virginia this week seem a bit “wimpy.” But a quake is a quake. And the nervous chatter of “survivors” in the nation’s capital made for headline grist. Not to be outdone, The South Bend Tribune carried the testimonies of those in Michiana who felt the earth move (ever so slightly) “way out here.” All the while Hurricane Irene is barreling up the Atlantic with the usual late summer gusto of another tropical storm turned destructive. (Remember school beginning six years ago on the heels of Hurricane Katrina?) And the folks in Texas? They were praying hard that the storm would head their way, since their state is now gripped in the most ravaging drought in its long history. Ah, the weather and quakes—Mother Nature keeps changing the subject, doesn’t she? And as for the Arab Spring—nobody’s sure now where that “spring” is headed. Egypt struggles with her new lease on democracy. Syria’s lethal crackdown only worsens. Yemen is off the radar screen. Libya now is front and center—and nobody knows where Gadhafi might turn up or how that awkward revolution might turn out.  As once again Israel and the Palestinians go at it—rocket for rocket, tit for tat. Some spring that was! Anybody want to discuss the global economy—Europe, the U.S., China? I didn’t think so. Because, truth be told, nobody knows. Period. Listen, do you suppose the entire planet—read, the human race—feels these mounting seismic tremblings? Could it be that all of us—God believers or not—with awkward uncertainty and mounting dis-ease stare into the unknown ahead of us? In 1921 W. J. Yeats composed his poem, “The Second Coming”: Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. “Full of passionate intensity”—the moniker of “this generation.” Then perhaps we all—God believers or not—could profit from a reflective brooding through an ancient gospel. “The Last Word: The Fourth Gospel for a Final Generation.” Because maybe the “Peace I leave with you” promise tucked near the end of the Jesus narrative (John 14:27) is earth’s most sought gift of all. And so the journey commences right here, right now. Never mind the earth beneath your feet—stay on course until the Gift is in your heart.

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