GOD BLESS AMERICA
LAND THAT I LOVE
STAND BESIDE HER, AND GUIDE HER
THRU THE NIGHT WITH A LIGHT FROM ABOVE
FROM THE MOUNTAINS, TO THE PRAIRIES
TO THE OCEANS, WHTE WITH FOAM
GOD BLESS AMERICA, MY HOME SWEET HOME.
At the time of the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II, Kate Smith sang this song, written by Irving Berlin, and helped give a sense of meaning and hope to a people torn apart by anxiety and fear. The world was falling apart and people were losing hope. These words, much like the words of the Gospel (Good News) express a hope, but also a vision. It is most important for people and nations to have a vision that can be shared with others and give a direction.
Today, as always throughout the ages, people search for a vision that can unite us and stir the blood. We are experiencing radical change in our own culture as well as cultures throughout the world. At times, individuals and cultures are wounded and set upon from all sides. Life as we knew it is dying and the new is being born with much pain and a sense of loss. Many strive mightily to hang on to the past, forgetting that every generation shares this same experience. Birth and Resurrection are signs of life renewing itself around us and within us. At times within the painful experience of giving birth, we lose hope and wait for the pain to go away. We drown ourselves in the drug of choice in order to find relief.
Our world has been undergoing radical change; death and rebirth, for billions of years. We humans have been around for several thousand years, the result of countless steps of evolution along the way. Our world seems fractured and there is no doubt that it is. But healing takes place in the birth of life constantly coming to be; the creation that we are part of. We look for a vision; something to give us hope. Kate Smith gave hope to countless people in 1940, singing a beautiful song speaking of the wonders and beauty of the world that is our gift – and we are gift to the world. The Gospel – teachings of the Christ, also proclaim the Good News – The Word become flesh – sharing with us this life coming to be. The pain is real, but so is the journey. We are called to feed one another along the way; to heal the wounds that we share. We realize in our faith that the journey is ongoing and has been experienced for generation after generation. When we remind ourselves that our journey is, has been, and will always be one of struggle, pain, and obstacles to be overcome, and that we need each other to finish climbing the mountain, then we make it easier.
We forget. We forget our vision and the goal that is in front of us, and we forget that we have within us all that we need to make this transformation. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we are still learning that we have within us that which is necessary to endure the journey. God Bless America – a gifted nation. We have the resources to feed the world; to walk together with other peoples engaged in the same search and to achieve the fulfillment of becoming fully human. Jesus constantly threw out the question; “Why are you afraid?” Don’t be afraid, walk together, gathered as one creation coming to be. Only when we understand that we need to walk together, can we begin to experience the fullness of the Resurrection. When we build walls and create artificial lines of separation we hang on to the pain of giving birth to life. We as a people choose so often to abort that which is coming because of our fear and therefore hang on to our pain and misery. We are called in our humanity to bring life to a broken world, not death. We are called to bring light, not darkness. To do this, we have to recognize the light and the life that is within us and then to share it with all that we encounter on our journey. We can’t give what we don’t have or recognize.
God has indeed blessed us and blesses us each and every second. We are called to open our eyes and look around us with the eyes of God – and fall in love with creation that we are part of. We are called to believe that we are unconditionally loved by the creator that gives life to all.