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David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole.
If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is © 2014 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.
~ David’s Desk, Current Issue ~
#98 – The Times They are A-Changing
Half the year has gone by, yet it seems to me like it should still only be February at the latest. There’s truth to the old adage that as you get older, time goes by more swiftly. There’s a good physiological reason why this is so, but I forget what it is. Oh yes, as you get older, you forget things, too!
The events of the past week have got me thinking about how times are changing, and not so slowly either. A good friend of mine back in the Sixties and Seventies was a woman who had been born in California in 1890. I remember her telling me stories about her father taking her to San Francisco in a horse and buggy to watch the tall sailing ships—the fabled clipper ships—coming into the harbor from Asia and Europe, the latter having sailed around the tip of South America, the Panama Canal not existing yet. Seeing this through her eyes was like seeing into another world. And in her lifetime, we had learned to fly and had landed a man on the moon. Pretty impressive achievements in eighty years!
My oldest son was born in 1983. For him and for my other three children, space travel was a reality. They’d never known a world in which men and women had not been in space. For me it was, and continues to be, a marvel. I remember vividly taking part in a panel at a conference sponsored by the Lindisfarne Association. Sitting next to me on the panel was Rusty Schweickart, one of the Apollo astronauts, who was talking about his space walk. Since I was a child, I’d been a science fiction fan, along with my father, and we used to have long discussions about what it might be like to go into space. I suddenly realized sitting there that I was next to an honest-to-goodness spaceman, someone out of my childhood dreams and fantasies, a person who had actually been out there. In that moment, it was as if the world turned upside down for me; that was the moment space travel became viscerally real for me.
None of my children have known a world without computers. They take the Internet, social media, smartphones, Twitter, and all the rest for granted, and they are very sophisticated and knowledgeable in their use and in their challenges. I’m lucky if I can get my word processor working properly!
One of our neighbors has children who have never known a time when the United States did not have an African-American President. What was historic to me (and even, in many ways, unthinkable just twenty or thirty years ago) is ordinary to them.
Yesterday, we spent part of the day with friends who have a nine-month old daughter. All going well, she will grow up never knowing a time when gay people couldn’t marry and looking back may wonder what all the fuss was about. Two older gay friends of mine were talking with me about the recent Supreme Court ruling making gay marriages legal. They were happy about it but wary at the same time. “There’ll be a backlash,” one said to me. “Gay people still need to be careful.” But to my children, all of whom have gay friends, homosexuality is not a cause for raised eyebrows or for sniggering jokes. It’s just a normal, natural part of the human condition, one of the many ways in which human beings can love one another. For them, the Supreme Court decision simply ratified what was already becoming the norm in modern culture where over 60% of Americans now accept gay marriage. In fact, by the time my friends’ baby daughter becomes a young woman, there may be no distinction between gay and straight. A person will simply be a person, a fellow human being, and marriage will simply be marriage, the union of two loving hearts, two loving souls.
This change in public opinion about gay marriage—and about homosexuality itself—happened in a span of a decade and a half. This kind of fundamental social change happening so rapidly is amazing and speaks to the evolutionary tempo of our times.
For me, though, the most significant event of the past month wasn’t anything that came out of Washington, though President Obama’s eulogy for the slain pastor of the Mother Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, stands as one of the finest pieces of oratory I’ve heard any President deliver since President Kennedy. It was the surge of love and forgiveness that arose from the relatives and friends of those who had been killed in that church only days before. Where a young man hoped to inspire a racial war, he became a catalyst for racial harmony.
It need not have gone this way. The United States has seen a number of protests and near-riots recently over the shootings by police of African-Americans; it’s not as if the possibility for hatred and revenge didn’t exist in our society. But as President Obama so eloquently said, grace was at work, and the people of Charleston set an example of how through love, hatred, ignorance and darkness could be transformed.
This is real change. Important change. I’d like to think that in the future, our children will all look back on this past week, and especially on the largeness and depth of spirit shown by the people of Charleston, as a true marker that the times are a-changing. Because of their actions, I like to think a spirit of love has been given a boost: love for each other, love for the stranger, love for that which is different, love for the earth, and love that heals, transforms and uplifts.
If that love can grow and spread, we really will have a new world. Is it possible? Absolutely. Why not? We can make it so. In the midst of mind-numbing grief and lost, ordinary people chose love over hate, and by so doing showed us what we are all capable of doing.
One hundred and twelve years ago, a mere blink of an eye in the span of human history, two men showed the world that flight was possible on the sandy beach at Kitty Hawk. Last week, a congregation showed us that the human heart can overcome the gravity of sorrow and bigotry and fly as well. When it does, wherever it does, a new vista unfolds before us and everything changes.
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David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is ©2015 by David Spangler.
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