The Wood is Dry

Progressive Christian Social Action

The Wood is Dry

“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children…  For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Luke 23:31

This morning the tears finally came. Friends, the wood is dry.  People are getting sick and dying from the pandemic, which is just getting started. In some places, like New York, the hospitals are beginning to get overrun.  Healthcare workers are overwhelmed and risking exposure every day, often without enough supplies, respirators, or protective equipment. Schools and businesses are closing, and people are being laid off faster than during the Great Depression. We are beginning to see shortages of food. Racial violence and domestic violence are increasing. Economic insecurity, anxiety, fear, and tensions are on the rise.

Yesterday, a two-trillion-dollar stimulus bill was signed into law. It will take some of the economic pressure off at least some of the people but will provide many times more money to bail out the industries that keep the current economic system going. This system is called a free-market economy, but everyone knows that the government always (so far) can find enough money to wage war or to bail out the banks or to subsidize favorite industries that “pay to play” in order to elect and lobby the very leaders who make the decisions about policies that end up siphoning even more of society’s wealth up to the top. This is an example of the Shock Doctrine at its worst—taking advantage of a crisis to install policies that transfer wealth to the already wealthy. While the bill offers money for medical necessities in for dealing with Covid 19, loans to small businesses, and grants and expanded unemployment insurance to people are suffering, it also offers much more in bailouts for big corporations. The Trump Administration’s Treasury Department will be able to leverage the $500 billion dollars many times over, to the tune of $4.5 trillion or more, far more than the amount given to the people in this hour of extreme need. It has even been called a “corporate coup.” (See article below)

I not only grieve for what our people are facing now. I am also furious that our lawmakers don’t take this opportunity to create a system that is not based on the God of money, a system with the purpose of caring for people and protecting our earth.

This grief and fury must have been what Jesus felt at times, when he challenged the religious and political leaders who supported from and benefited from the unjust Roman system of domination and occupation at the expense of the people.  They targeted him as a subversive and put him to death because the popular movement he led pointed to a new way of living, demonstrated an inclusive and egalitarian community based on compassion, and challenged the status quo. Jesus could see that if the Domination System targeted him at that time, when the Spirit of God was so active and apparent among him and his followers, it would continue to do so long after he was gone.

In Luke 23:26-31, we read that as Jesus made his way toward his crucifixion a great multitude of people “bewailed and lamented him.”  But he turned and addressed them saying: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’  For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

The wood is dry.  But I’m encouraged because I see green shoots all around: in the people who reach out to each other in this time of pandemic, in health care workers and others who risk themselves and give their all for the common good, in those who care for the children, deliver food to elders, facilitate online connection, and try to raise people’s spirits, and in those who continue to strive for social, economic, and environmental justice and systemic change.

The seeds of resurrection are already planted.  With prayer, dedication to each other, and courage, we rise.

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10 thoughts on “The Wood is Dry

  1. Thank you, Sharon, for another great essay. I’ve been reeling too from feelings of grief and anger. But yesterday I happened on a wonderful interview with Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield, on the Tim Ferris podcast. His words were so powerful that I am still feeling the effect of them today. He tells many healing stories. He quotes from wisdom literature, such as this gem from an Ojibwe elder:

    ““Sometimes I go about pitying myself when all the time I am carried on great wings across the sky.”

    Here is Kornfield’s “Pandemic Resources” page:

    https://jackkornfield.com/pandemic-resources/

  2. “walk in a good way” But the way is so utterly unclear to most people. How many people even know that plastic is made from fossil fuels? Most just look at it as a convenience. And this corinavirus started in a meat market. We treat God’s creatures with utmost cruelty. Is this pandemic a sign that animals are getting back at us? Our system can only be looked upon as a bad way?

    And Sharon’s plea that lawmakers need to turn away from their focus on money to attend to the less fortunate? Howard Zinn once remarked that we elect these people, think they are our saviors, then forget about them. Who even knows the name of their representative? Remember in 2008 when Obama challenged his opponent to use exclusively public monies? John McCain answered “yes!” Obama reneged. McCain’s money ran out in August.

    Money in campaigns is immoral. People are homeless and food insecure and we throw billions at candidates. My letter to the editor on this topic was printed in the Chicago Tribune. But to what effect? Campaigns last years and as soon as a person is elected, dialing for dollars begins.

  3. Good to hear from you Sharon. I loved especially the paragraph below. But upon careful re-reading, I had to add “but on” after the comma.

    I will look up the verses to which you refer.

    I not only grieve for what our people are facing now. I am also furious that our lawmakers don’t take this opportunity to create a system that is not based on the God of money, a system with the purpose of caring for people and protecting our earth.

    Janice Gintzler

    5241 W James Lane

    Crestwood, IL 60418

    708-603-5253

    ________________________________

  4. We are now living in a time that has never before been seen in our life times. A crisis of over consumption, corruption of government leaders, disrespect for all living beings. We have arrived at crossroads. A wake up, a reality check, a time of re-awakening to our souls, of what is right and what is wrong. A call for each and every soul to listen to our highest good, good graced upon us at birth and accessible every moment, every day. “Great Spirit, look upon us, bless us, help us to walk in a good way.”

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