How fast can you say the alphabet backwards? I’ll confess that I get no momentum at all with that exercise. It is bizarre on the tongue whereas reciting it the usual way has a satisfying efficiency, a smooth flow, one benefit of rote learning. It reminds me of watching a video of a dog running and jumping into a swimming pool but on slow rewind; weird watching the water unsplash, the dog unleap, then unrun, and finally scooching back down in the grass. These ponderings arise from the red-letter events of this week: yesterday’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., today’s observance of the National Day of Racial Healing and tomorrow’s Inauguration Ceremony at the Capitol. 

So much near-unfathomable exclusion and animosity and inhuman treatment of fellow human beings has blighted the landscape for far too long. So much misery and pain have been inflicted, and much continues in our day, both actively and as fallout. We tout opportunity and ideals and freedoms and privileges that are to be enjoyed by all. The catch is the ‘all:’ inequity and injustice and discrimination mock us, pointing accusing fingers, disturbing comfort zones and exposing what is as yet unfulfilled in the American Dream. Is it possible to re-ravel yarn that has been un-skeined, to re-bag marbles that have been spilled, to re-tube toothpaste? It is! There is an answer! There is a way! There is a Light! And we are his hands, his feet, his mouthpiece. Even given all the widespread wrong, Scripture’s promise to us is that Love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) Jesus’ love can! And as we live and move and have our very being in his love, we, too, can stand prayerfully in the gap and watch as divine love blankets our land, restoring, repairing, rebuilding, reconciling, replenishing, renewing, resurrecting! St. Francis’ prayer: ‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,’ is in our bailiwick. We are at the micro level, yes, but some of the most miraculous phenomena in our world take place at that level. Let’s not despise ourselves as small beginnings. God has given us 2021 in which to make more of Jesus’ prayer (John 17:20-23) a reality. I can almost hear him yelling to us like a coach to his team: “Tag! You’re it! Go, Disciples!” and in the background his supremely galvanizing rally cry: “I am with you always to the very end of the age!” OK. I’ll start: z-y-x-w-v .  .  .  PD

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