“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines;
the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat;
the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will exult in the God of my salvation.”
With all the remembering going on around the anniversary of 9-11, I have been thinking about the task of re-building. So many places around the globe have met massive destruction, first with grief and then with determination to re-build. The 10th anniversary of September 11th was also the 6 month anniversary of the tsunami in Sendai, Japan. In places like Kabal and Port-au-Prince, Baghdad and New Orleans, unimagineable loss has occurred in these last 10 years.
I confess that I am less interested in remembering the losses. This may sound insensitive to those who have lost so much, but I want to pay attention to the ways people find the energy to re-build. How can our grief in remembering propel us toward building a new world in a new way?
Edna St. Vincent Millay in her “Epitaph for the Race of Man” (1934) paints a heartbreaking picture of the farmer who has lost everything to floods, but still holds in his pocket the hope that will carve his future.
The broken dike, the levee washed away,
The good fields flooded and the cattle drowned,
Estranged and treacherous all the faithful ground,
And nothing left but floating disarray
Of tree and home uprooted,–was this the day
Man dropped upon his shadow without a sound
And died, having laboured well and having found
His burden heavier than a quilt of clay?
No, no. I saw him when the sun had set
In water, leaning on his single oar
Above his garden faintly glimmering yet . . .
There bulked the plough, here washed the updrifted
weeds . . .
And scull across his roof and make for shore,
With twisted face and pocket full of seeds.
What seeds of hope are in your pocket? Where would you like to plant them?