My Troubled Earth


Today in some areas of America there will be a total solar eclipse. Most of Europe doesn’t know that. We won’t see it as it will be night, we’ll be safely tucked in our beds. In many North America cities they talk about it a lot.  It will beautiful to pull up a chair and experience it I am sure. Looking up will be akin to being reminded that we live in a big universe that has rhyme and reason.

IMG_3376Down below, however, underneath the solar eclipse we continue our violent trajectory with each other. My earth is troubled. We don’t have to look far to see the divide between whites and blacks, Jews and Arabs, North Koreans and their neighbours down South, ISIS and the rest of us, on and on it goes. We think if we build bigger and higher walls, invisible ones too, we can separate and isolate and protect ourselves. But with every inch extended the frustration and violence increases. Where’s the beauty in that? Why are we so afraid of humanity’s diversity? There seems to be no rhyme and reason to our blindness.

So maybe the first step to seeing beauty in people of other ethnicities begins by seeing it in the breathtaking  design of our planet earth. The reason we can predict a solar eclipse is that there is a predictable design. The rare total eclipse over land, as the Pope’s astronomer tells, “reminds us of the immense beauty in the universe that occurs outside our own petty concerns.” I can think of countless times over a year spent in Germany’s Black Forest stopping in my tracks at night in awe. I couldn’t stop looking up at the immense number of stars!!! They made Van Gogh’s famed Starry Night painting look like a star-famine! Nature does speak! Volumes of beauty are written in every nook and cranny of this creation.  It is our introduction to God’s creative genius.

I’ve grown up hearing Bible stories since I can remember. Mom read them, like a good Dutch Refomed woman, every evening after supper. I didn’t know then that Moses authored the creation account called Genesis. Science says earth began as a Big-Bang. I am pretty sure Moses didn’t have much background understanding of such an event as creation. Telescopes weren’t readily available and no google to break it down. He had just what God decided to reveal. Besides I doubt if there would have been enough papyrus anyway to write an indepth explanation.  Moses gave what his generation and ours needed to know, the main  storyline. And it goes like this, “God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature…” Human beings, it appears, have both the likeness and DNA of God; essentially we image His glory in our humanness.

Reading the Bible I understand that we were created by love and for love. This nature of ‘love’ was and is still evidenced in the faces of all the peoples of the world. Yes, black and white and variations of those skin colours. Why do we have such difficulty in seeing this?

Pride and fear. Together they produce racism, the belief that one’s own race is superior. Some of my black friends, smart people, tell me they had to work twice as hard to gain the respect they were due. Many of them heard words growing up that made them wish they could have pink or white skin so they could be more accepted. Eventually they learned to be proud of their skin colour. It didn’t come easily for many.

Doesn’t it seem ridiculous that we humans discriminate others for something that they cannot change. If only the scales of pride and fear could just fall from our eyes. You know, the pride of superiority, or the fear of losing control of our petty concerns. If only we could have a spiritual solar eclipse that passes our soul and after the beauty of God’s DNA could outshine the darkness of our superior attititudes. It makes us uncomfortable talking about race, but it doesn’t have to be a barrier. It could be a gateway into a new way of seeing experiencing beauty.

In the end it comes down to this, our common humanity is what makes the world ‘go round’ or better said, makes it ‘glorious.’ I saw a poster recently of two babies, one white and one black. The caption read, “Humanity is our race, Love is our religion.” Sounds biblical to me!

Nope, not everyone sees the world in that way. Scales. Blinders and bluffs.

We all need some experience or maybe some beautiful soul to take off our bluffs, to have the scales drop from our eyes in order to see of the mystery of God in each other.

My travels have allowed me to meet, know, break bread with many in Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Liberia, Kenya, Italy, Spain, Germany, Iraq, Turkey, Laos, Vietnam, France and a thousand other hills or cities. I’ve seen glimpses of God’s face not only in my fellow Christians, but also in my Muslim and Buddhist friend’s face. IMG_3331

I think the great Saviour of the world wanted us to be surprised to see his beauty and DNA even in the ones we’ve dismissed as dark, lost, least, and probably doomed. When we begin to see the image of God where we don’t want, we begin to see. We begin to see.

“He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance … Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.” (Ephesians 2:13-16)

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