Along with 1500 other Richmonders on Sunday afternoon, I joined many of you at the Islamic Center of Virginia, for Standing Together: One Nation, One Community. It was an experience I won’t forget; and, if you were there, I’m sure you won’t either. It was beautiful. The sunlit crowd, sprawling across the hill in front of the mosque, some sitting, some standing, people of all ages and colors and faiths. And there was an unmistakable, wonderfully palpable spirit of joy and warmth and kindness and solidarity, intermingled with an equally palpable and fierce, if gentle, determination to see that justice is done in this land of ours.
In America today, as one president goes, and another comes, we feel it, we see it, we know it. We can’t get away from it, really: We are acutely conscious of the need for reconciliation and healing in this country of ours, and in this world of ours.
We hear "a voice from heaven," in this coming Sunday's gospel, say, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." The scene is, as you may remember, Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan. And these words will be, in turn, echoed late in Jesus' ministry, high on a mountaintop at the Transfiguration, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!"
On this Fourth Day of Christmas, I’m reflecting on a timely theme: connection. In his New York Times article from December 22, “How Social Isolation is Killing Us,” physician Dhruv Khullar surveys recent studies relating to the growing incidence of loneliness in America: that 40% of Americans now report being lonely, versus 20% in the 1980s; that loneliness has a whole host of negative effects, increasing heart disease, obesity, and cognitive decline, for example -- "dire physical, mental and emotional consequences."
Three times in the last week, I have found myself drawn to share the following words of Frederick Buechner's: "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”