My journey to the car wash this Fourth of July afternoon offered up a full spectrum of emotions. I had just spent an hour studying my friend Matt’s blog post about his experience of picking coffee in Columbia and listening to the plight of farmers displaced by multinational coffee corporations ( http://matthollandsj.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/one-more-cup-of-coffee-fore-i-go/) . In the car, my mind raced through facts about the injustices to people and environment, perpetrated to a large degree by the U.S. And my heart ached for the priest Matt said had been mutilated and murdered by the Columbian government because he stood in their way of amassing land from farmers to accommodate the multinationals. My Fourth hadn’t gotten off to a good start. Like Jesus, my spirit wept for my sins of waste and consumerism, and for the sins of my country.
First stop: the Shoreline Library, where I scanned the borrowed DVD’s and slipped them into the return bin. Such excellent films they were, all for free. There on the bench outside the entrance to the library, sat an aging Asian couple, laptop in hand and completely immersed in a program wi-fied to them, compliments of the library. Fireworks exploded in my heart. This is also America, I thought. Our tax dollars at work on behalf of this immigrant couple who possibly came here from Tibet, in search of their stolen freedom.
Last stop: a challenge. The 90’s offered up a biting satirical film starring Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Willie Nelson, and Woody Harrelson. It was called, “Wag the Dog.” It seems the president’s affair has hit the newsstand, so his chief of staff hires a Hollywood producer to create a war in Albania to divert attention from the affair. A “war hero” is conjured up and a patriotic song, “Old Shu,” is composed to rally all of America around the pretend-war effort. I swear. They played that song the duration of my tour through Walgreen’s. I was off again!
So, now for the spiritual practice necessary here. Never stop thinking. Never stop weeping over Jerusalem. But always seek the WHOLE truth, which embodies grace as well as sin.
Happy Fourth of July!