Last week I mentioned the TV series “House of Cards.” Though clever and entertaining, the series reflects cynicism that unfortunately is a serious problem in our “post-modern” culture.
By contrast, the visit of Pope Francis seemed to speak to our better nature. Though simple and soft-spoken, his words and actions reflect a faith and respect for those that are vulnerable. His words and actions invite us to plumb the depths for the healing and wholeness beneath the surface of all things (to paraphrase Thomas Merton, whom he mentioned in his address to Congress.)
Here in Fort Worth, in his sermon last week about Paul’s personal struggles, Dr. Tim Bruster mentioned an old Cherokee story that deserves repeating here:
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
“One is Evil — It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
“The other is Good — It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Yesterday brought a new report about Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. I was sorry when I learned that he met privately in Washington last week with Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who defied a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
My first thought from taking in the soundbites about that was, “Oh no… Here comes the familiar taste of polarizing, political divisions that quickly feeds the wolf of cynicism.”
But this morning I have had time to read and reflect a bit. I believe, if we go deeper than the surface soundbites and our genuine disagreements, we might discover that the Holy Mystery is still offering us Wisdom and Healing and Wholeness beneath the surface.
Here is an excerpt from an article I read in the New York Times:
Alberto Melloni, a liberal Vatican historian in Italy, said that in meeting with Ms. Davis, Francis was staking out ground as a defender of conscientious objection more than seeking to escalate his relatively muted opposition to same-sex marriage. Mr. Melloni noted that this stance was consistent with Francis’ decision to single out Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day during his address to Congress. Both were “radical pacifists,” Mr. Melloni said: Merton was a conscientious objector during World War II, and Day supported objectors during the Vietnam War.
John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, a liberal advocacy group, said Francis’ intent was not to escalate America’s culture wars but to illustrate the contradictions within them.
“Part of the Francis effect is making the left and the right a little bit uncomfortable, and, mission accomplished,” Mr. Gehring said. “I think Pope Francis affirms religious liberty, and he rejects the culture wars. That’s something we need to grapple with.”
Pope Francis has gone, and we have some discerning to do about our lives here in Fort Worth. Which wolf will we feed?
Prayerful pondering seems to help open the way to true hope… and courageous, holy conversations…
Grace and peace to you all,