(Published at Praxis Online)
Night has descended, dark and thick,
that surreal time when image and reality merge
and the mind wanders alternately in fear and hope.
Another contemptible man has received
high office and great power.
I hear someone say,
to a chorus of approval,
"The Most High rules the kingdom of men
and gives it to whosoever He will
and sets over it the lowliest of men".
I hear in those words
satisfaction with being in possession
of secrets unknown to other mortals
and into my mind comes a challenging thought,
that if God is in control He is doing terrible job
because I have seen,
somewhere in Syria, in an ambulance,
a little child covered in dust,
eyes blankly expressionless beyond confusion;
saw too a mass grave
with a hundred decapitated bodies;
saw ruined landscapes,
camps in Germany, Poland, Siberia,
a mushroom cloud spreading up from Nagasaki
and a little naked girl, her face contorted in terror,
running along a dusty Vietnamese road.
and saw too the dark history of humanity.
I have also seen wind blowing across the water,
clouds billowing, rain falling,
plants climbing towards light,
forests, meadows and mountains,
the stained-glass wonder of evening,
night's diamond blaze,
the complex unity of it
and again I return to humanity,
gifted, capable of beauty, dreaming great things
but warring, violent, unjust and oppressive too.
I raise my eyes and ask:
What do You think
when You look at the world?
It is scarred with holes.
Its polar caps are melting. Its glaciers shrink.
Its forests burn.
Millions starve while some feast.
The smoke of war rises everywhere.
Are You anguished?
Are You filled with grief and sorrow?
Do You lament and weep for what You see?
Is the world dark because You have given to us
the freedom to choose?