Saturday, August 4, 2007
Thursday I had meetings and a hospital visit on the other side of town. So I got on the highways, including the one where the bridge failed, but didn't get too close to ground zero.
It seemed like traffic was a little light. I had heard that many people were just staying away. As I drove, I became aware of how many bridges I drove over and under almost every day.
As I drove underneath one, I caught myself looking up, and thinking, are there any cracks? How does it look? Does it look all right?
It's a wonder how we go through our lives every day, never even thinking about the things that hold us up, that keep us going -- most of the time. We live our lives trusting -- that roads will not crumble beneath us, that buildings will not fall on us, that people will stop and go and yield the right of way when they are supposed to. We don't pay attention, until something happens.
As I drove, I listened to the radio. It was all about the bridge disaster, about acts of heroism, about dazed victims, about cars still submerged and shared uncertainty. It was about whether we were adequately warned that this might happen. It was about who to blame, or who not to blame.
I switched the station for a moment to the local progressive talk radio station. I haven't been listening lately, but I thought I'd tune in, thinking the host might weigh in.
It turns out he had on a conservative guru, and they were arguing about taxes. The conservative was saying that if we had more privately owned bridges, we'd do better. The talk show host was saying that perhaps it was wrong to make a profit from roads. He kept saying, "All of you guys think..."
I switched back. I'm tired of ideologues -- right and left. I'm tired of people building walls instead of bridges, and refusing to find ways to solve problems. I'm tired of posturing. I'm looking for someone with humility, someone willing to look up, see the cracks, share the uncertainty.
I was looking through the church bulletin yesterday, and happened to notice that our closing hymn is "How Firm a Foundation." Ironic. It was chosen back at the end of May. I wonder who will think about the foundations that have crumbled recently. I wonder who will think about all the things and people and ideas we trust, usually without thinking.
We're also having a baptism on Sunday. Another child will pass through the waters of baptism, will receive the promise of Jesus' life with, in and for her. There's the firm foundation -- in the promise of God, in the waters of baptism. But God doesn't promise her, or us, an easy life. God doesn't protect us from danger. Instead, God's promise gives us courage to risk our lives and face our death. God's promise gives us courage to put down our gods, to change our minds, to work for our neighbor's good. God's promise can help us to build bridges instead of walls.
How firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word.
What more can he say that to you he has said
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled.
Throughout all their lifetime my people shall prove
My sov'reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hairs shall their temple adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.
Gracious God, by our words and our actions in these days when foundations crumble, may your people be living proof of your undying love. AMEN