From the Chaplain:
Spring from Dark into the Light
Each person’s way of seeing things makes huge differences – and can often lead to ruffled feathers or even
anger, hurt and resentment. So, in this season of Springtime buds and greening, let me share some thoughts on
narrowness and openness.
I recall the time I spent working in an area of the Poconos where the only radio station played “Country
Music!” I got a taste there for Merle Haggard who sang about down-to-earth and gutsy stuff – everyday things
about youthful darings, late nights in bars, trains, trucks, and pretty girls.
I remember one song that lamented the failure of some ne’er-do-well adventurer who ignored his mother’s
best efforts to keep him on the straight and narrow. The refrain said:
“And I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied
That leaves only me to blame ’cause Mama tried”
The un-named lifer in these lyrics regrets his failure all right… and owns up to his guilt – he has no one
else to blame but himself. But there’s never a mention made about what crime it was that merited “life without
parole.” Was it, perhaps, the killing of a member of the police department, the murder of a robbery victim… or
something else? Whatever it was certainly had to be severe. Where’s the focus on the family that lost an officer, a
valued and beloved person… or the way life is changed forever for innocent people?
As far as the lyrics go, I guess we can sympathize with a young man’s life lost before it hardly got started.
And we can sympathize with his mother’s sorrow because of the tragic terrors that ensnared her son. But we must
marvel at the inadequacy of this focus that is so insensitive to anyone else.
That’s a measure – sensitivity – that suggests a higher level of humanity – so crucial to the common good
of all people. Our society cannot thrive when self-absorbed, violent, and evil-intended people wreak havoc. The law
must remove such forces from our midst and boost the security of the law-abiding. But, admitting this, we must not
adopt the ways of narrowness, thinking that we’re perfect, needing no improvement in social skills.
How refreshing to consider the Passover from enslavement into the new possibilities of the Promised Land.
How inspiring to contemplate the divine reversal of the effects of Evil’s power by the irrepressible might of Love
itself – that revealed a Prince of Peace whom death itself could not bind. In springtime’s renewal we sense the
miracle of going from narrowness (hatred, prejudice, greed, selfishness, and violence) into the warmth and light of a
new day (respect, benevolence, altruism). We need not stand forever in the grip of the cold, but glimpse the promise
of redemption, renewal, and growth.
In celebrating the good and the moral – and rejecting the paralysis of negative and self-oriented thinking,
we participate in that satisfying privilege of being part of the solution to the world’s worst problems. How awesome
and rewarding it is to be counted among those who are concerned for keeping the peace. May the Almighty Power
embolden us anew as we behold the promise that focuses on the light that replaces winter’s darkness.
Chap. James G. Anderson