Right now the United States is struggling to recover from the racial violence of Charlottesville. The violence there has now bled into an ensuing war of words and battles over statues. For the average citizen, it all seems chaotic and confusing.
Concurrently, Spain is trying to recover from the shock of a recent terrorist attack in Barcelona and reassess aspects of its public safety and policy. For the person on the street, it can all appear daunting, and overwhelm their abilities to understand and make sense of it all.
What is a person of good will to do in the midst of these tragic incidents and the dark spirits surrounding them? In the arena of such evil, where can we find hope?
While not wanting to minimize the possibility of ignorance or of barbarism within our fallen human hearts, or the severe tribulation of the events in Charlottesville and Barcelona, our source of enduring hope has always been above us. While that observation – above us – could certainly be a symbolic answer and a theological one, it’s also a very practical one.
Our source of hope is literally above us.
As we look above, a clear realization is made: We share one planet. This is our world, what Pope Francis calls “our common home.” We are all in this together. And as equal and co-residents of such a beautiful home, it is both virtuous and essential for us to get along and to care for one another and the world around us.
This reality helps us to comprehend that there is no escape hatch to get away from it all, no carved-out society that is independent of the responsibilities and consequences that come from human actions. There are no excuses to remain silent, idle, or passive spectators in the throws of life and the fight for goodness and a tranquility of order.
We share one world, we are one human family, and we have work to do.
This realization of unity and mission should give us some peace of mind as well as a great hope that things can be better. It can show us that evil and darkness do not need to be given the last word and that hatred and violence can be conquered by higher spirits of kindness and love within those who see humanity as a family and are committed to the common good of all.
These assertions are all well and good, but the hurt and harm of Charlottesville and Barcelona causes a certain wrestling match in the human heart. It can be difficult to accept or to deepen in this understanding of our communal identity. We need a sign. Something to help push us along the right path.
And so, we are blessed this week – as we literally look up – to receive a very clear indication of our solidarity as a human family, namely, our planet will participate in a total solar eclipse. Earth will be one part of a phenomena that will involve three heavenly bodies.
Hailed by NASA as “one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights,” the solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the sun and earth and blocks the sun’s rays for a duration of time. While only observable in some parts of the world, the eclipse is a phenomena experienced by the planet earth.
As NASA data visualizer, Ernie Wright, attests: “You suddenly feel as though you can see the clockwork of the solar system.” And in the experience, the unity of the planet and the solidarity of the human race – whether some like it or not – is on a magnanimous and powerful display.
The solar eclipse reminds us: While we are different, we are one. And as we look above us, we find hope.
And being edified by this hope, and revering the Creator as we understand him, we are now called and re-commissioned to be something different in our world. As violence erupts and recycles into tension, we are called to be instruments of healing and peace. As some seek to tear apart communities, we labor to be sources of unity and reconciliation.
This is our work, for our human family, and for our common home.