The power of real words
Yesterday, I published a soft little item showing some reflective pictures and rather appropriate words of attachment. Little did I know that some very powerful word forces were planning same day to really thump me around the head. Here’s what happened.
The church that Jean and I go to on a regular basis is very inspiring. Two reasons come to mind. The first is the love and friendship that the congregation offer, both to regulars and visitors alike. The second is the spiritual inspiration gifted to the priest and, boy oh boy, does that come out through his sermons. Indeed, the rest of this article was motivated by yesterday’s sermon.
Take a look at the American railway ticket above. Turn your head and look at the right-hand part. What do you read? ‘This check is not good if detached‘. Now let me quote a little from the sermon,
It is difficult to care for people in the world when we are not a caring community. It is totally absurd to speak of peace in a world when we do not have peace in our community. It is impossible to be an instrument of love in the world if we are not a community of love.
What is true in the Church is of course true in the world as a whole. We do need to learn to live together. Railway tickets used to carry the words, “Not good if detached.” That is true of life in general. Our survival and progress as people on this planet are dependent on our interrelatedness.
See the beautiful spiritual inspiration that comes from those gifted to draw such powerful word pictures. Take that last word ‘interrelatedness’. Jean and I are studying at the local college for a Master Gardener’s Certificate. For the simple reason that we have to find a way to tame our wild garden, comprised mainly of decomposed granite granules, so that we can grown our own vegetables, have some chickens, that sort of thing.
The last session was about botany. To a complete non-gardener like me it was, nonetheless, fascinating. What moved me beyond measure was the detail and complexity of all things botanical; grasses, trees, shrubs, flowering plants, you name it. It was the interconnectedness of it all. Here’s an example.
Certain orchids dupe male wasps into trying to mate with them. Here are a few extracts from a piece in the New Scientist website,
Few can resist the allure of a beautiful rose, but some wasps outdo even the most ardent flower lover. Presented with the right specimen, a male orchid dupe wasp ejaculates right on the petals.
Many insects mistake flowers for femmes, but few go as far as these wasps, says Anne Gaskett, a biologist at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, who led a study of the insects’ amorous intentions toward two species of Australian tongue orchids. “It’s just so hard [for the wasps] to resist,” she says.
Orchids are known for toying with males. Many species produce female-mimicking perfumes that lure males into spreading pollen. But most insects merely touch down on the flowers.
Think about that the next time you order flowers!
Now have a quick watch of this video extract from the BBC,
OK, let me get back to that botany class. As our teacher pointed out, lose that particular species of wasp and the planet probably loses that species of orchid. Think about the interconnectedness of that, and much more in the beautiful planet all around us. It is such a marvellous, beautiful, complex and interconnected world. We need constant reminding of that fact. Which is where yesterday’s sermon hit the mark again.
Inspired by the pictures from a flight to the moon in 1968, American poet Archibald MacLeish spoke these beautiful words:
“To see the earth as it truly is, small, blue, beautiful in the eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together …“
That is a wonderful image, riders on the earth together. It speaks of our togetherness as a human race, brothers and sisters on this fragile island within the vastness of the universe. Brothers and sisters … that really need to know … that we are brothers and sisters.
We need to do all that we can to build bridges, to mend bridges, to stay together as a true community… because we are:
Not good if detached. Amen.
What a powerful sermon. What inspired power in those words. Real words.
Forgive me for holding your attention just a tad longer. This is the full Archibald MacLeish’s quotation, referred to in the sermon above.
To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold—brothers who know now they are truly brothers.
— Archibald MacLeish, American poet, ‘Riders on earth together, Brothers in eternal cold,’ front page of the New York Times, Christmas Day, 25 December 1968
This is what Frank Borman, who was on Apollo 8, had published in Newsweek, 23 December 1968,
When you’re finally up at the moon looking back on earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.
This is what Frank Borman was reported as saying in the press in early 1969,
I think the one overwhelming emotion that we had was when we saw the earth rising in the distance over the lunar landscape . . . . It makes us realize that we all do exist on one small globe. For from 230,000 miles away it really is a small planet.
The view of the Earth from the Moon fascinated me—a small disk, 240,000 miles away. It was hard to think that that little thing held so many problems, so many frustrations. Raging nationalistic interests, famines, wars, pestilence don’t show from that distance.
The power in those words. The power of the truth about our interconnectedness and the power of Not good if detached.
Let me leave you with a fragment from another Blogsite that I came across quite by chance while researching for this piece.
A blog is a voice, the inner voice, telling, in this case, what is going on, inside and out. And in me, that means it should also be about my spiritual path. My spiritual life is as important to me as breathing. Without connection with the One, what is life? What is it for?
Not good if detached. Amen.