“All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.” (Cormac McCarthy, The Road)
Is it possible that something holy and profound might grow out of this moment?
The most extraordinary thing about the Christian faith is not that we believe in a transcendent God, or that life does not just end at the grave, or that failure and sin can be overcome by something we call grace (or love). It is the fact that all these beliefs are rooted in the dark moment of the Cross, in the deadly betrayal of a follower, in the cowardly lack of leadership by a politician, in the pitiful cheers of ordinary human beings who, for reasons inexplicable, cried “Crucify him!” Had we been there, we would surely have experienced the chaos and the hate and the cruelty as some kind of prelude to the end of times, or at least to some kind of dystopia that would not be worth enduring. Instead, we look back at that moment when all of humanity hung on the cross, and we proclaim it as a beginning rather than an ending. That is why we willingly descend into the season of Lent; ironically, it is our great affirmation that hope rises from the ashes.
I’ve been hearing the voices of children this week. I use that word carefully, because they are not children if judged by maturity or ability or even wisdom. The voices of some are stronger and more insightful than any of their parents, any of us. But they are children in the best sense of the word, undeterred by political and social realities, their sensibilities and love-for-life not yet tainted by the cynicism that has become pervasive in the world around them.
They rise. They speak. And they do so with the expectation that they will be heard.
Depending on where you stand, you may or may not like some of their policy ideas, but that really isn’t the point, is it? What is the point, you say? The point is that they stood at the Cross on that day, in the midst of the thunder and the bedlam and the death; they were witnesses to the cries and the agonies and the endings; they were schoolmates to the one who betrayed them.
And now they rise. And they say we can do better.
We can create a better world, and we will, for the simple reason that we breathe the same air and we need one another. Out of the grief and ashes, they remind us of grace and beauty and hope.
Reverend Don Underwood, pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Plano TX
Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Florida; Photo credit CNN