Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Rain Falls on the Just and the Unjust

I was thinking of the psalm phrase, "the rain falls on the just and the unjust," as I was caught in a rainstorm yesterday afternoon while I was jogging. It was a real "gully washer" as we say back home in Snohomish, and yet as I slogged along, I began to feel exhilarated. Another man out jogging caught my eye and started laughing loudly: "Hooray!" he shouted. Yet another man shouted "Twenty bucks for an umbrella!" I find Australians to be very friendly. And getting wet in Brisbane is like taking a warm shower: no chill at all. There was a brief sense of solidarity among us caught in the autumn freshet.

The television has shown pictures of people caught in airports due to the volcano in Iceland. It doesn't matter if you are the Governor General of Australia trying to get to a state funeral in Poland or a tourist or business traveler in Europe, or even just wanting to get to Europe. Everybody shares the same fate: you gotta wait! It seems to bring out the creative impulse in some. A young couple exchanged vows, witnessed by family via skype; they missed the reception back in Britain. Others are just glum, some are teary. With the ash streaming out of the earth and up into the jet stream, the whole globe will continue to be affected for a while more. The depths of the earth and heights of heaven impinge upon each other.

It is a graphic example of our interconnectedness on the earth. You can never escape being part of the Earth and being one of her creatures. Volcanos are natural; imagine if all that mess was radioactive! It is interesting that we are having nuclear reduction talks at the same time that the volcano blows, as if to say: this is what it might be like, this is a bit of a foretaste or maybe a dress rehearsal.

The choice is ours. Can we really pretend much longer that we are NOT connected? If we foul the earth in one place, soon many people feel the impact. This reality of our fragility and interconnectedness is one of our core Franciscan insights, and it is both a source of inspiration and a missional challenge. One of the interesting programs SSF offers for our brothers is a spirituality program, part of ongoing Franciscan formation, originally intended to help the brothers in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. It grew out of the idea that we are all one community, interconnected and resources to each other. Here Brothers Hilton and Isom from the Solomon Islands stand outside the Friary Chapel at Stroud.

But we can't forget interconnectedness works both ways: we experience the negative impact as well as the helpful assist. We are never alone. As I have traveled around the Australia/New Zealand Province of SSF I have met brothers from Solomon Islands, others originally from England, Italy, Sri Lanka: a web of families and cultures that can quickly provide strength and needed vitality as we share what we've got. The spiritual, intellectual, and cultural resources among us are enormous.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

being an ex friar,I am so proud to be part of a daily life style,I was released on Jan 1985 for family problems and my head brother was Geoffery, originally from NZ.I want to thanking all SSF brothers throughout the world for their faithfulness to witness the Gospel may GOD bless.my name is Jackson Hamish living in the United States of America GOD bless.

Wyatt Harvey, author and freelance writer said...

The rain does fall upon the just and the unjust, and your mention of the interconnectedness we have with each other and with the earth is proof positive. Now, we have the oil spill that is destroying so much in the Gulf of Mexico and will likely work around the coasts here in the U.S. to do more. The folly of the men responsible has caused this 'rain' to fall on all of us. I hope others will learn from this and learn of just what you have taught here. Well said, my friend.