Saturday, December 6, 2014

The whole truth for a Sunday

This week I paid a visit to my local library. It's been a few years since our family's weekly routine of hauling home a bag filled with children's books went by the wayside due to the onset of adolescence, but I'm still a sucker for great children's picture books! I brought one home called Old Turtle and the Broken Truth (2003, Scholastic, ISBN 0-439-32109-3), written by Douglas Wood, and illustrated with beautiful water colour images by Jon J Muth (I'm a sucker for water colour art, too!) 

Old Turtle is a beautiful story about a truth (like a meteorite) shooting through the sky and breaking up before it hits the earth. Animals find the truth, but realize that it is too sharp, with a piece missing that prevents it from "working properly." Then people find it, and declare it to be the most beautiful truth ever, enshrining it in a special place and fighting to keep it from others, causing all sorts of bloodshed, hatred, anguish and pain.

But a young girl with an open heart and mind goes to talk to grandmotherly Old Turtle, who gives the girl the missing piece of the truth. Gratefully receiving it, the girl takes it back to her people, who discover that the two pieces fit together perfectly, revealing the whole truth: "You are loved / and so are they." Discovering the whole truth, the people begin to be able to look at others... and see themselves, too.

Since reading the book, which I recommend to anyone with children, and even to adults(!), I've been reflecting on places where love of the 'other' has gone missing -- in relationships between nations and races, in our abuse of creation, in our refusal to accept difference.

I've also been thinking about places where violence is a daily occurrence, and where people are praying for change, partly because a blogger friend is presently living and working in East Jerusalem as an ecumenical accompanier who witnesses the hardships faced by people living in the midst of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. I'm learning a lot about what is going on by reading Debbie's blog (click here to read it yourself, and click here to read her husband Dean's excellent reflections). If both Israelis and Palestinians understood Old Turtle's piece of truth, there would be no need for walls or wars or burned out mosques -- and the division of Jerusalem into Jewish, Muslim and Christian sectors would be unnecessary...

In these dark days of Advent, as we wait for God, I am realizing how much he and she is needed in our world in the form of justice, mercy, peace, and love. There are so many places where the darkness is calling out for light. So, we can't just sit on our hands while we wait -- as today's Gospel reading says, we need to prepare the way and make God's paths straight so that she and he can touch all people, through our hands.

Come, O God,
light our darkness,
heal our lovelessness,
make us into your justice and so, bring us peace.
Let us always remember that, as we are loved, so are all the others you have created.


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