#rendtheheavens Day 14

Matthew 3:10 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire.

I am tired of apocalypticism. Two weeks of prophecies of fire and destruction seem plenty, don’t they?

And yet, they keep coming – in the scripture and in the real world.

My urge has been to stick close to the ground. I don’t mean hiding out, though that possibility has certainly crept in, too. I mean weathering apocalyptic eras by learning from the people who weather apocalypses day in and day out. The hysteria of friends and colleagues is exhausting. So is the turbo-charged political energy and commitment. It feels like that January 2 crowd at the gym: newly committed to a program that will last all of three weeks.

No, I want to learn about living in apocalypse from the people who have learned to do it long-term. I want to learn what it means to live in the face of crumbling infrastructure and destructive policies from people who have done that for generations.

I want to get low to the ground, practice downward mobility and abdication of privilege. I want to know the time-tested wisdom of people who have always lived outside the circle of white American middle-class exceptionalism.

That means: most of the world throughout most of history.

I heard yesterday that if we were to translate the energy required to run an American house for one twenty-four hour period, it would take 40 people working 8 hour shifts to generate that kind of power. And, the thing is: somewhere – hidden from my view – at least that many people are working at least that many hours to make my lifestyle possible. How is that different, the friend who shared this anecdote asked, from slavery?

The world has always been ending.

And there is a way to live with that reality, a way to live inside that reality with the hope and the joy of the new earth and the new heaven. It’s just that my particular ancestors ended up not needing the wisdom of that, and it got discarded somewhere along the way. Others have it, share it, live it. It’s just a matter of paying the right kind of attention in the right kind of places.

From Jan Richardson:

Blessing When the World is Ending

Look, the world

is always ending

somewhere.

Somewhere

the sun has come

crashing down.

Somewhere

it has gone

completely dark.

Somewhere

it has ended

with the gun,

the knife,

the fist.

Somewhere

it has ended

with the slammed door,

the shattered hope.

Somewhere

it has ended

with the utter quiet

that follows the news

from the phone,

the television,

the hospital room.

Somewhere

it has ended

with a tenderness

that will break

your heart.

But, listen,

this blessing means

to be anything

but morose.

It has not come

to cause despair.

It is simply here

because there is nothing

a blessing

is better suited for

than an ending,

nothing that cries out more

for a blessing

than when a world

is falling apart.

This blessing

will not fix you,

will not mend you,

will not give you

false comfort;

it will not talk to you

about one door opening

when another one closes.

It will simply

sit itself beside you

among the shards

and gently turn your face

toward the direction

from which the light

will come,

gathering itself

about you

as the world begins

again.

Jan Richardson

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