A lightning bolt hit our school during a storm last weekend. Such an energy current can cause lots of damage and jolt us from normal patterns of living. Ironically, our school’s nickname is The Chargers and our mascot is a bolt of lightning held high by The Flash.
In the line of Saint Paul on the road to Damascus discovering Christ, Ben Franklin with his kite capturing electricity, sailors at sea witnessing Saint Elmo’s fire, or direct hits from other famous lightning rods, the strike we received could be a wake-up call to view and review our foundation, purpose, and path. This year, 2020, is giving us multiple shocks and shakes to startle us, most notably the Covid-19/coronavirus pandemic around the globe and the million demonstrations about racism and social injustice across the country. As the heavens thunder, they are forcing us to reconsider who we are and how we engage.
Sacred Scripture tells us to awake from our slumber and respond to the divine energy that jolts us. It is a good image as our sky lights up this week in commemoration of our nation’s independence and freedom. The annual lighting of the sky honors our forebears who gave birth to a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal. Products of their time, they were imperfect, as are we; but they did their best to do what was right, making numerous sacrifices in the process. We also want to do what is right. In the midst of a pandemic, that means staying home, staying well, and somehow staying connected. In the midst of racial strife, it means emerging from the sidelines to get right with God and with one another. Doing what is right means offering gratitude and standing firm for citizens’ life, liberty, and pursuits of happiness. We don’t, however, have the right to defame, deny, or destroy our amazing—though flawed—history. Instead, we should look to Lady Liberty, Jesus Christ, and the flame of faith they hold high to heaven.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuge of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless tempest tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside this golden shore.” We are still part of the wretched refuge that seeks the perfect homeland. We haven’t created it yet, though we strive onward and upward. Saint Paul said that is because heaven is our true homeland. Jesus challenged us, through our actions, to bring heaven to earth by doing the will of God. As our forebears established us as one nation under God we need to keep doing our part—flawed though it be. Jesus, the light of the world, calls us to also be bearers of the torch. Similar to Lady Liberty, He said: “Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome. I will refresh you…Yoke yourself to me and your souls will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
Like when lightning strikes or thunder roars, 2020 is shaking us and awakening us. By a jolt from a bolt of light flashing from the sky, we’ll respond to do what is right in our time as our ancestors did in theirs. Look to the lamp held high upon the shores of this great land from sea to shining sea and look to our Lord who enlightens the path to heaven’s shore.