Monday, September 05, 2005

Of biblical proportions

A friend offers spiritual reflection on the description of Katrina's destruction as having "biblical proportions" --- "Numerous media reports have described the effects of Hurricane Katrina as an event of biblical proportions. The concept is one worth reflecting upon. The Exodus and the Exile are the two central events of the Old Testament, and indeed they do resemble our current situation in many ways. "The Exodus refers to how the Israelites, under the leadership of Moses, escaped from slavery in Egypt, wandered in the Sinai desert for 40 years, and finally reached the Promised Land. When they entered into the desert, the Israelites left everything behind: their homes, their jobs, their familiar patterns of life... "The Exile refers to a period (beginning about 580 BC) in which the Babylonian kingdom captured the kingdom of Judah and destroyed the Temple... In accordance with Babylonian custom, the leaders of Judah were forced into captivity in Babylon... as their poorest and most vulnerable were left weeping by the ruins of the temple, leaderless and desperate. It is said that the exiles in Babylon were so devastated at their separation from their people and their Temple that they hung their harps in the trees; they were too despondent even to sing... "Sad parallels abound: suffering masses, hunger and thirst, failures of leadership, homelessness and hopelessness, death and destruction, a people dispersed. Our news is likely to only get worse over the next few weeks and months as we begin to understand the magnitude of this disaster. However, the events of the Exodus and the Exile give us reason for great hope in the midst of so much suffering. God is and will remain faithful to the covenant. Our end of the covenant bargain is quite simple: Love one another. Each of us is called to use our gifts to serve one another. We are privileged to be working at shelters, hosting families in our homes, donating money or goods to those in need, and joining together in prayer. "On this Sunday, the anniversary of the devastation of 9/11, we are forced to come face to face with the cross... We are called not to hang up our harps, but to serve one another and to sing our song of resurrection. Perhaps through this shared experience, our own images of God will grow. I pray that Christ will give us eyes to recognize new life amidst this disaster that truly is of biblical proportions." Cathy Cobb