Still New Every Morning
Is it possible to love a bus stop bench? At the very least, I feel great affection towards one in particular. I wrote about this bench a couple of of years back. It's located near Belmont University in Nashville. I see it whenever I go for a run while visiting town. The thing I love is the graffiti on the back of the bench. Several years ago, someone sprayed the jubilant message, "Hello New World!" Seeing that always made me smile. It gave me a thread of hope. Is it possible to love a bus stop bench? If so, I have loved that bench.
Tonight I went for a run. It wasn't a great run. Even though it was slightly cooler the sticky humidity of the day still hung in the air. But I knew that I was going to pass that sign on the way back. I knew that optimistic message was going to give me the kick I needed to get run through the darkened path back. And someone had to mess it up.
Beneath "World," someone had spraypainted "Order." Hello New World Order. Barring the possibility that the bus bench editor was a professional wrestling fan stuck in the 1990s, a message of hope got yanked down to earth. It was pessimism. And it wasn't even original pessimism. It was a parasite. It twisted something good into something bleak. I cursed under my breath.
The word is there is a darkness upon us. It hangs like the humidity on a Southern night; clinging to all who dare go outside. You can see the reasons why people feel that way. Violence and hatred. The stoking of fear and mistrust of neighbor. There are people preying on these vulnerabilities.
The truth is there is a darkness upon us. There is always a darkness upon us. We live in a screwed up world with screwed up people. I'm one of them. The fact that this reality is always on the table is overwhelming. Some people respond to this barrage of bad news by giving into fear. Others put on an armor of cynicism. They do not hope for hope is seen as weakness. Others ignore the darkness. It's not their problem. All of these responses only cause the dark clouds to grow.
But the truth is there is also light. There is goodness. There is hope. We are alive today and thus the possibility of a new world is always on the table. That is what people need to hear. It is not a naive hope that ignores the hardships that are a head, but a determined hope that will fight back with compassion, love, empathy, and a desire to understand.
This hope is not easy to come by. I find it ridiculously difficult most days. I am writing this mainly for myself. I am tired of greeting each day with weariness. The days in which I am able to muster up hope, I admit that it comes from my faith. I know that sounds pat, but, believe me, there is a mountain of complications within that. But when I think about this collision between the things which seek to hurt and the things that heal (as I did the first time I wrote about this bus bench), I think about this verse:
"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:19-23 (NRSV)
The evil that is in this world today does not get the final word. The new world that we face today is full of God's love and mercy. We must find it and share it with those we meet. We must be people of determined hope. God's great love and compassion for us do not fail. They are new every morning. Even when things seem bad, they are still new every morning.
So let us put away cynicism, fear, and apathy. Let us not twist hopeful declarations because they seem childish. Let us say hello to the new world that awaits us this day. May we bring love and compassion that do not fail.