"Peace in the Night"
- Olive Branches at the Desert Retreat House -
Yesterday the entire world experienced another of those history-making tragedies that will live on in our minds and hearts for years to come. The horrific slaughter of innocents and the unleashing of a new wave of terrorism in France has once again shocked people of goodwill all over the globe.
Last evening as I watched the almost-continual news reporting about the Paris massacre, I noted how often those events were compared to what happened in the United States back on September 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center was decimated by a terrorist attack. In some ways the sights and scenes of the carnage and destruction in Paris did have a way of eerily eliciting the images of 9/11 all over again for me.
As I watched the news yesterday I remembered a time just last December when my wife and I visited the site of what was once the World Trade Center in New York. The former Trade Center has been newly rebuilt and the grounds have been turned into a holy shrine, a museum, a touching tribute to those who died on 9/11. I clearly remember standing at the site of the New World Trade Center thinking how magnificent it all looked. From the rubble of destruction and despair a great “Phoenix” had risen up.
There is a section of the 9/11 museum dedicated to preserving the messages people left for one another when the Twin Towers were first attacked. Some of these were messages to “loved ones” left on telephone answering machines, by passengers on the planes about to crash into the towers: Honey, we aren’t going to make it, I love you, tell the kids how much I love them- you will always be in my heart. Another message preserved in that museum had been scrawled on a police barricade outside the pile of rubble after the bombing, it said:
Evil Never Wins!
In the face of certain death, love never came to an end.
In light of the Paris terrorist attacks, I have been remembering those messages and thinking about that “Phoenix” rising out of the rubble of the World Trade Center - no matter how hard you try, you can’t kill love.
In one of his epistles, St Paul puts it this way:
Love never gives up.
Love never looks back but keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
I am far too cynical to believe in a Utopian world where we can look at hatred and violence and sort of “shrug it off” because “love conquers all, so “don’t worry, be happy.” Of course, there is an incredible amount of hatred, pain and evil in our world and many people have hardened hearts; yet even in the midst of all the chaos I am still convinced that love is stronger than hate. Even though we are often broken and barely limp along, ultimately love wins the day.
“God” is “Love,” the force that energizes the universe, and Love never dies.
I am reminded of something Martin Luther King once said in a speech he gave at a time when he felt he was losing the battle, languishing in the pits of despair:
But even in the midst of chaos I refuse to believe that
humankind is tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war.
I refuse to believe that the daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Yes, I still believe that we shall overcome!