This blog summarizes Sharon Delgado’s words at the Ash Wednesday service at the front gates of Beale Air Force Base, on February 18, 2015. Go to Videos of Ash Wednesday at Beale to see several brief videos of the day’s events.
The focus of Ash Wednesday is mortality and repentance—two primary aspects of faith. It is the first day of the season of Lent, which allows us to journey with Jesus and to identify with him as he faces death at the hands of the Ruling Powers of this world. This day and this season is a reminder of these things. “Remember, O mortal, that you are dust, and to dust you will return.”
We sang “Dust in the Wind” at the beginning of the Ash Wednesday service here at Beale today. The song is a reminder that life is short, limited, finite, and that we are mortal interconnected with all other forms of life. Life is precious, and this day reminds us to live and love as if this day is our last.
Sometimes we forget. We humans may think that we have constructed a “world” on top of the world, that the institutions and systems that we have set up are permanent and all-powerful, but they aren’t. As Chief Seattle said, “What befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.” Or as other have said, “Earth bats last.”
We U.S. Americans may think that our nation will dominate the world forever, but it will not. Even with all its bombs and drones, today’s global Empire, like all Empires, will fall. It already contains the seeds of its own destruction. Everything is dust in the wind.
Repentance is another Ash Wednesday theme. People in ancient times humbled themselves to repent in dust and ashes. Today, we repent for harm that we have caused personally. We also repent for harm caused by the society and nation in which we live, and we call our society and nation to repentance as well. Today especially, here at Beale, we focus on drone warfare. Global Hawk Drones are operated here, identifying targets for armed Predator and Reaper drones. Drones are killing people, including innocent civilians and children. Their lives are precious, too.
Near his final days, when Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem, he stopped and wept over the city, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known the things that make for peace. But now they are hid from you eyes.” He then prophesied that disaster would come upon them and the children within them if they did not turn around. Why? “Because,” he said, “you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
From there he went down into Jerusalem and immediately entered the Temple, driving out the money changers, symbolically striking directly at the heart of the economic/political/social/religious system of his day. No wonder that within days he was put to death.
But that is not the end of the story. The good news is that that same Spirit is with us still, called by so many names. The Spirit that caused Jesus to weep over Jerusalem, the Spirit that moved him to take action for justice, the Spirit that motivated him to give himself in love… that Spirit inspires and animates us even today. We do recognize the time of our visitation from God. God is right here with us.
Everything mortal, finite, constructed by human hands is dust in the wind. Everything passes. Love remains.
Read the story of these events on the Nuclear Resister website.
Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell Facebook page. Other blog postings about actions and trials related to Beale demonstrations can be found here. Stay up to date about ongoing Beale protests at the Occupy Beale AFB website or Occupy Beale Facebook Page.