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A Week of Remembering


"I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure." - Mark Twain


Perhaps this quote by Mark Twain sums up what some people may have honestly felt with the news of Osama bin Laden's death.  "With pleasure" is too strong a phrase to use for many of us, since we are still touched by a deep sorrow for others and the world. There are many of us who wish to celebrate life, and the sacredness of life, not death or any one person's death.


I have so many different emotions running through me, among them a fierce national pride for what America is at it's very best, but the most prominent one is still one of utter sadness at the loss of life on 9-11, and how this changed the world for so many people and continues to shape the world we live in together. And that, as a Christian, I pray not only for peace and mercy and righteousness, ultimately God's compassion and loving-kindness, but for justice too, and that God's justice must be served to find that peace. Let justice be served, and may this justice lead to a healing of a people and the world, and a celebration of life, no matter what faith you may practice, let it lead us into a more merciful, caring, compassionate, and loving world.  This is my prayer and this is my hope.


Amos 5:24 (RSV) - "But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."


The other quote that comes so strongly to my mind immediately, for all the lives, lost on 9-11, and since then, both civilian and military lives, for those who have served and still serve with courage and honor, for those who suffered and suffer still on either side, in any country, of any faith, is this one by the Anglican Priest and Poet, John Donne.


"No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." - John Donne, Anglican Priest and Poet


No matter what your faith or politics may be, the bell does toll for thee; it tolls for all humankind, the sound rings across our nation and the world. What I would like to remember most now, is how after 9-11, we came together as a people not only in the United States, but across the world, with immense compassion and concern for one another, with an empty and deep sadness, for the loss we felt that day, but also, for the unity, we felt in our common humanity. There is no price we can place on such compassion and human unity, no price.


In this moment of history, let me offer in all these words, and this quote by Thomas Merton, a time of reflection, in which we look again at what binds us together as a people, in celebration of life, not only as Americans, but as human beings, as a people created in the image of God, where God, however, you may imagine God, dwells within us each. Let us reflect on and even celebrate that unity and the ties that bind us together, "bless be the ties that bind."


Thomas Merton - Le Point Vierge (the virgin point)  [Thomas Merton: Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, pg. 158]:


"Again, that expression, le point vierge, (I cannot translate it) comes in here. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak His name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely."


May the peace and love of God be with you now and remain with you forever more. And may we truly come, to understand what Christ means, when he tells us to love our enemies and to search for forgiveness in a world that is filled with entirely too much suffering and death. May he help us all to become more Christlike, Saint-like or Buddha-like,  in how we may serve and love one another.  May he teach us how to make God's reign become a reality here on earth, at this time, and help us "to become peace, to make peace."  Amen



Ron Starbuck

Sunday Morning, May 8, 2011


"To become peace, to make peace," calls out to the book by Paul F. Knitter, Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian.