Thursday, September 01, 2005

Psalm 77

It has been quite incredible to see the pictures and listen to the stories of the aftermath of the hurricane in the Gulf Coast area.

This morning I woke early and could not go back to sleep, trying to understand and make sense of what is happening but dependent only on what is being reported on the news and then being fully immersed in my corporate, cubicle-and-computer-bound job, far from the reality of what the TV is showing.

My Bible opened to Psalm 77. It seemed especially fitting. A cry for help. Not able to sleep. Questioning God. Violent waters. God's footprints unseen/unknown through the waters. A people being led.

I'm searching for prayers or a litany for Sunday. The pastor is on vacation, and I want to help people—myself—find the words to offer to God. The Lutherans also already have published a hymn (.pdf). It struck me that, once again, the Christmas story isn't confined to December:
Joseph and Mary:
refugee people,
traveled together
to Bethlehem.
Joseph was weary,
Mary expecting.
There was no room for
them in the inn.
[Update 9/5/05: After listening to this discussion on the NewsHour tonight (only available in audio at this time), I came to understand that people are upset about being called "refugees" in their own country because it implies they are not true citizens. I did not think critically enough about the song before quoting it here nor did I consider the connotations of the word "refugee." In the verse I quoted, Mary and Joseph are travelling from the region of Galilee to Judea, more like "interstate" travel than later when they escape to an "international" destination, Egypt. The image that stood out to me was of pregnant Mary having to travel and TV pictures I'd seen of women who gave birth during the evacuation.]

Beyond the hurricane itself, the brokenness of the world we live in cannot be denied. The poverty of so many people. Greed and violence that seem suddenly evident in those who are looting and yet are the same greed and violence that led to the ripping up of the coastline's natural defenses for the sake of "development."

As I wonder how I'm implicated in this all, I'm taking delight and hope in a book my former pastor, Peg, gave me: The Sea, the Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle, by Lynne Cherry. It is a children's book, with wonderful illustrations, about the many creatures who shelter in mangroves along the coast during a storm. They are safe, and, after ten years,

dead bleached branches still tell the story of the hurricane. But new growth has sprouted from the mangroves' broken branches, and the mangrove island is even bigger, wider, and deeper.

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