4:3Even wild jackals nurture their babies,
give them their breasts to suckle.
But my people have turned cruel to their babies,
like a threatened lemur in the wilderness.
4Babies have nothing to drink.
Their tongues stick to the roofs of their mouths.
Little children ask for bread
but no one gives them so much as a crust.
9Better to have been killed in battle
than killed by starvation.
Better to have died of battle wounds
than to slowly starve to death.
10Nice and kindly women
boiled their own children for supper.
This was the only food in town
when my dear people were broken.
Book of Lamentations
Nature is cruel they say. It doesn’t take long – watching any tv nature program – to come to this conclusion. The realities of big dog eats little dog, bigger cat eats big dog, birds eat baby cats, and even mothers abandon babies torn by the drive to survive to breed again…
So, why is it that we humans think we should be excluded from this cruel cycle?
Somewhere we got the idea that we can surpass the survival instinct and live by compassion and not hunger’s greed. Somewhere we got the idea that because we manage to do this on occasion, we are somehow better than the beasts – and somehow then, do we also think we deserve to get special treatment outside of Nature’s cruel cycles?
When Nature strikes…gathering malignant cells to form tumours, turning once pink organs black, taking memories from the electronic data bank in our skulls…we say “that’s just NOT FAIR”.
And yet, we swat mosquitoes, blast winged, creepy crawling creatures with poisons and guillotine furry little creatures raiding our cupboards with a shrug. “That’s life.” we say.
When human life becomes disposable. When chaos reigns and the cruelty that lives in every human heart breaks into mass bloodletting (the Holocaust, Guatemala, Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq) how can we say we live outside of Nature’s cruelty?
Our desire to be separate from the beasts. To call upon a higher good within and a higher good from above – the help of heaven – is what leads to such fantasies of “no – not me – not us – never”. The good guys would never, ever, act like the beasts. Not with GOD on our side.
And yet even ants and bees model altruistic behaviour. Bill Hamilton, a shy and strange biologist recorded in the lives of insect colonies – a genetic code – that causes an individual ant or bee to choose self-sacrifice if it will lead to the good of the others. The closer the relationships and co-dependence – the greater the degree of cooperation in the colony - the more likely we are to see “Hamilton’s Rule” at work.
Hamilton helped to crack the genetic riddle of the double helix, discovered by James D. Watson and Francis Crick. Hamilton and Crick eventually worked out the language of DNA, the triple rhythm, the four double-step repeating pattern at the core of all of life’s matter.
And why does it matter? Why do we care about the so-called “secret” to life’s creation? Why do we need to dissect and label the ever-creating universe emanating from the Big Bang and returning to the ever hungry Black Hole of matter’s demise?
What we find – finally – at the apparent end of the riddle – is that “hey – we’re all just material girls”. We are, at our core, made only of the same stuff as the insects and cats and frogs and birds on wing. Even angel’s wings are made of the same stuff as the toenail clippings on my floor.
And within the cycle we humans call a lifetime there are a quadrillion other cycles – eons long and seconds short – that turn, turn, turn.
The Holy Scripture captures only a mere few thousand year’s worth of observations of those cycles. And yet, how quick we are to reduce the wisdom of the ages to me and my suffering whirlwind’s tempest. How quick we are to blame the Big Guy upstairs for judging my sins worth punishing or picking on me to teach a lesson today.
GOD LOCKED ME UP IN DEEP DARKNESS
I’m the one who has seen trouble,
trouble coming from the lash of GOD’s anger.
GOD took me by the hand and walked me
into pitch-black darkness.
Yes, given me the back of the hand
over and over and over again.
GOD turned me into a scarecrow
of skin and bones, then broke the bones.
hemmed me in, ganged up on me,
poured on the trouble and hard times.
locked me up in deep darkness,
like a corpse nailed inside a coffin.
As GOD’s chosen frozen in Canada, how easy it is to righteously shake our heads at the inhumanity we watch like a great comic Opera with tea and toast on television screens.
And when tragedy find us. When the life and love we build our homes, dreams, and futures upon comes crashing down. When our wealth disappears, or its purchasing power fails to buy us back what is lost forever. When it’s too late. When it’s all over. What then, is the secret of life?
IT’S A GOOD THING TO HOPE FOR HELP FROM GOD
I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
GOD’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
that merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with GOD (I say it over and over).
It’s all I’ve got left.
GOD proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from GOD.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
to stick it out through the hard times.
When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.
To go to the place where we can once again observe the creating source bubbling, emanating, exploding, imploding, careening, caressing, carefully evolving only to be torn apart and re-imagined as a the next unique thing never before seen by GOD or bumblebee.
To see that the worst is never the worst is because the best is never the best either. That this duality – this urge to judge our lives as good or bad, productive or wanting, strong or weak, holy or profane – is the same false vision that leads us to remove ourselves from life’s equations.
“judge not” says the Jesus dude – only repeating what poets and scientists must finally agree upon. “We’re all (and I mean ALL) in this together”.
At Bill Hamilton’s funeral, his wife spoke of her hope for the Peace he’d found. He’d wanted his body to be left on the floor of the Amazon jungle and turned to mulch by his beloved insect friends. Instead, at the edge of British forest, his wife hoped that on spores his cells might one day rise to be carried in clouds to – eventually - rain down upon the ever growing, growling rainforest of the Amazon.