So here I am on the way again.
I love flying in a small plane early in the morning. The angle of the rising sun highlights the contours of fields which otherwise look flat. Now the hills and berms cast their shadows. Alternating green and brown, cut by winding lines and dotted with blue grey ponds. To the right, the slow curves of the Mississippi.
Today I am moving toward a place that was born in conflict, and violence and genocide. Where thousands were killed in the perversion of the name of Christ. Not centuries ago, but about two decades ago. Some of my friends who decide not to be called "Christian," but instead "followers of Christ," do so because of the realities that are a part of places like this. Where the Muslim with whom you speak can only think of the murder of his father and uncle when he hears the word "Christian." How does the movement of those flowing one who led by suffering and crucifixion get things so wrong? And what word can we bring to make him known?
Unlike my recent trip to Haiti, where organizing medical and dental outreach and loving children was simple enough, and everywhere around we saw and heard expressions of faith in Christ, being in Bosnia requires, well, more being and listening. And if my heart was drawn to the Haitians because of their suffering and my years of ministry focused on the French world, it is broken simply by the thought of those who may be justified in their animosity towards people who are called Christian. Christ have mercy on us.
The illusion wanes, and in time we return
to our noisy cities where the blue
appears only in fragments
high up among the towering shapes.
Then rain leaching the earth.
Tedious, winter burdens the roofs,
and light is a miser, the soul bitter.
Yet, one day through an open gate,
among the green luxuriance of a yard,
the yellow lemons fire
and the heart melts,
and golden songs pour
into the breast
from the raised cornets of the sun.
from "The Lemon Trees"
by Eugenio Montale
(Translated by Lee Gerlach)