By Sister Pat Kenny
Years ago someone gave me, or maybe I found, a copy of “Desiderata,” a short poem penned by lawyer Max Ehrmann in the 1920s. We all have the experience of discovering something that would have meant very little at any other time but, when it discovered you, it meant everything. When this poem found me, several lines “spoke” to the very questions with which I’d been struggling:
“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding exactly as it should. … With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
In this time when our nation is struggling with divisions that have the potential to destroy our democracy; when years of carelessness and waste are leaving us dry, polluted and breathless; when “sham, drudgery, and broken dreams” describe the state of our world; when so many must wonder if they have a right to be here, we find it hard to say that “…it is still a beautiful world.”
Like a doll or a toy we loved to death when we were toddlers but nonetheless abused, we have all been complicit to some degree in bringing our world to its present state. Respect for each other, for the resources we were given free of charge, honesty in our dealings with one another and even with ourselves at times, kindness and generosity that does not demand recompense—these are values we grew up with but learned how to manipulate, ration and even deny.
Now is the time to recalibrate. We are all children of the universe, universally loved by a God who never walks away, never gives up on us no matter how incorrigible we are. We have a right to be here and so does everyone else. No one of us or group of us will ever have the right to exclude another for being who they are. The universe that has spun its magnificent web of mysteries for longer than our little minds can imagine will continue spinning no matter what we do or want or try to disrupt.
We struggle with the existential questions that stare us down these days. We wonder where we will find the will, the courage, the resources, and the sheer determination to do the right things at the right times for the right reasons. Let us rejoice together in the assurance that our God, whose plans for us are not for woe, will be with us always. Our beautiful world is our home even when it’s messy and our universal family is disruptive.