Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hate is strong and mocks the song

"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" has been my favorite Christmas song since my Vietnam-era college days. But this year the words seem particularly relevant.

The song about holiday refrains of "Peace on Earth" is based on a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow not long after his soldier son had been seriously wounded in the Civil War.  In one stanza Longfellow laments:

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong, And mocks the song  
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

       Although our country isn't at war now, hate seems to have taken over like dandelions popping up after a spring rain. Trump's whole campaign style was about inciting the anger and hatred simmering in the heartland. He blamed Mexicans and Muslims and media and Hillary and China -- and anyone else who happened to tick him off. Some of his followers took up this poisonous refrain and used it to lash out physically. Even some normally responsible, Christian people have rallied round his claims of greatness while the rest of us are still shaking our heads saying, "Didn't you hear what he just said?"
       I guess what scares me the most is not the hatred I see among his followers but the tendency to respond with equal venom. I don't like the anger he triggers in me. But lately I'm seeing a hopeful response, people really putting into practice "Love Trumps Hate." Individuals stepping up to protect and advocate for those likely to be victimized.
       Longfellow must have seen similar signs of hope because the poem has an upbeat ending:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Broken angels

About 18 years ago I started hanging only angels on my Christmas tree. I bought out all the angel ornaments at the local department store the first year. Then every vacation I would pick up an angel or two wherever I went. I have angels of shell from the Bahamas, simple pottery ones from Mexico, beautiful blown glass from Europe and a shiny copper angel from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. When friends learned of my obsession, they added to the collection.

Of course over the years there have been accidents. Several have lost fragile wings and one wooden puppet angel lost a leg. I've tried repairs with glue and wire but to little avail. 

This year I put up a smaller tree and didn't need all the angels in the collection so it was easy to choose only the perfect ones and return the broken ones to the box. But this curly-haired cutie looked up at me with such a sweet, innocent face that I realized that was the wrong choice.

God is perfect. The rest of us are broken. Some of us are impatient, quick to anger. (Guilty). Some of us are greedy or selfish or irresponsible. Maybe we're forgetful. Or a little lazy. But God loves us anyway. He displays us proudly on the tree of life, warts and all.

So I hung the broken angels where everyone can see them. And the tree is better for their presence.