by Roger Mock
It’s Friday and I have time to write a column today. But what to write? The thing staring us all in the face is this latest tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida. I will not pretend to have anything enlightening to add to the national conversation about this abominable outrage. I have not watched a single television news report. I cannot stomach seeing the images or hearing the details. Perhaps like most people, I feel all but entirely numb to it at this point.
It occurred on Ash Wednesday as well as on Valentine’s Day; an odd, seemingly disparate convergence of ritual occasions. Earlier in the day I had listened to a new song written specifically for this odd occurrence as the writer, Alana Levandoski, uncovered her own hidden meaning there. That meaning is summed up in this astonishing closing line: “We’re what happens when love meets dust.”
The three verses of the song reference the lives of three women who each lived deeply passionate lives in three radically different ways: Janis Joplin, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. Levandoski does not so much judge one life as having been better than another as reflect instead on the choice given to every soul to do what they will with the gift of life and the fire of passion with which they have been endowed.
The refrain that follows each verse (each life) is the same:
There’s a longing down inside
And this longing never dies.
It can destroy or it can trust,
But it’s what happens when love meets dust.
I’m seeing it this way today. We are God’s wild gamble. What choices will each of us make with what the challenge we have been offered? With this deep longing that lives down inside each one of us – the flame of life itself? That longing can lead us to destruction if, choice after choice, we choose a downward path. This is true for the individual and it is true for society as a whole. Conversely, the response to that inner flame of passion can lead us—through every act of trust and selfless love—to a great alchemy; to a life lived as a crucible where sorrow and suffering is transmuted into joy and liberation. On the collective level it can lead to a society founded no longer on greed, mistrust and corporate control, but to one established, as envisioned by this country’s founders, in peace, brotherhood and for the welfare and prosperity of all.
We’ve seen enough of the downward spiral. The 20th century gave us a glaringly stark glimpse at where it will ultimately lead. I hope and believe that we will continue to make the choice in so many needed ways for peace and for sanity in our world. And, though it’s in danger of becoming an easy-to-ignore cliché, we must head Gandhi’s words and do our best to be the change we wish to see.
Here’s is Alana Levandoski’s song: