Life happens too quickly. I swear that I was 8 years old like, 2 hours ago, and this week another birthday arrives to remind me how far from that little boy I’ve come. Call it progression…(perhaps).
Near my birthday I tend to gather up my life and see “where I am,” as a way to take inventory for the road ahead. Past successes and failures; I like to get real close to them and try to create some narrative for the life being lived…this leads to that…here’s how I ended up there…that sort of stuff. So I was already in that mood when someone on Twitter posted that Bin Laden had been killed (yes, I found out on Twitter…what a world!). I flip on CSPAN (because CNN and FOX are mostly satirical for me nowadays) and President Obama is telling me that the United States recently captured and killed Osama Bin Laden. From shock to disbelief to pride to plain awe once people started gathering in front of the White House and in Times Square.
“Are these people really celebrating a man’s death?” Yes, they were. By now you’ve read a good amount of editorials and commentaries on this situation, enough to know what it means to celebrate “soberly”/ponder the road ahead/pray for our leadership/all that good stuff. Honestly, I couldn’t write ANY of those editorials if I wanted to: my mind won’t go there! All I keep thinking about (and I mean ALL) is, “Wow, I feel like it was Sept. 11 like, 2 hours ago…” and the same people who were crying in Times Square were now celebrating, with different tears. For some it felt like a collective burden had been lifted overnight, but this took TEN YEARS. This country has come a long way, reminding me of my great aunt who says (every time she sees me), “I remember when you were a little boy on my lap. Next thing you know, I’m 90, and you’re a pastor.” She’s in awe every time she sees me and I’m in awe in consideration of our world right now, and we are both in awe for the same reason: Progression.
Evolution? Devolution? I don’t know enough to say, but progression for sure. In light of one man’s death Americans may be tempted to look up as if we have crossed some “finish line” (it sure sounds that way, right?). NO. We’re not at the end of something; we are in the middle of something, something that began in the 20th Century when the United States government had the bright idea of training independently affiliated “intelligence assets,” weaponizing them, and unleashing them on our enemies. We created a hellfire that was bound to grow (as all fires do) until it finally reached our shore.
So when I watch Bin Laden’s death I’m not celebrating, I’m thinking about the many years that led up to THIS point. Everything leads to something, no matter what, and this child of God’s death is one of many cumulative moments in the history of our country. There yet remains a thousand good questions to ask and have answered by our leadership.
More importantly, we can project our own lives into this moment and ask, “What led to THIS?” Where you are right now, reading a church monthly and doing whatever it is you do while reading church monthlys… What brought you to this moment in time?Deeper: What brought you to your current disposition? Why do you feel that way? What happened? Who happened? Good or bad: Do you remember the progression? Warm summers make us forget about cold and depressing winters, but something was happening during that time. Something is happening RIGHT NOW (can you imagine, something is happening to you right now?). What an amazing thought, and what an incredible time to be alive! But are you paying attention? Life is a process, and we honor God when we honor each of the moments in that process. Even the frustrating and horrifying ones.
I don’t want you to look up and, next thing you know, something great or terrible has happened and we are incapable of connecting it to anything else. Put each moment in perspective. Try to embrace what has been going on as a part of something bigger (than us or anything in this world). You might look up and see progression. Perhaps.