Monday, July 24, 2006

Caught between Haifa and Beirut

I was doing OK working with the peace group, writing to my senators and congressman about the Iraq war....things certainly weren't budging very quickly, but I was resigned to the long haul.

The conflict between Israel and Hezbollah (and, so the analysts say, Iran and Syria) with Lebanon caught in the middle (how many more populations must be caught in the middle?) caught me up short, took away what wind I had....

I have a friend whose elderly relative lives in Haifa and a colleague who works at the American University in Beirut. I thought of both of them immediately. Got a postcard from my friend, saying that his family member is OK, spending his days in a bomb shelter where, fortunately, there has been telephone access. My colleague responded to my email, telling me that she had a treacherous drive to Damascus and from there managed to return to her family in the US via Vienna, thanks to Austrian Airlines.

Amazing to think that William Butler Yeats wrote "The Second Coming" just after WWI. Of course, every generation thinks it is witness to Armageddon...some in the current generation actually rejoice to think so, mistaking the imaginings of a couple of novelists for the word of God.

Yeats must have had this verse in mind: "If anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ !' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it." (Mk 13:21)

No, it is not Christ ...the upheaval and bloodshed are our doing.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

But tonight I feel thankful for Deepak Chopra who reminded me of this poem, just as he reminds us in his book Peace Is the Way that it is up to us to take care of things here on earth, our home, and not to expect God to intervene.

Bringing me a bit of the wisdom of the Orient, he reminds me to seek the middle way, to reclaim my center. Concentrating on my breath, like the yogis... There he is
...I hear it in the deep heart's core.

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