Our Responsibility in Living the Paradox of Murky Life

Over the last months, my prayers have included in a particular way people in cities and towns along the might, muddy, murky Mississippi River - and especially for residents of Davenport, Iowa, my hometown, which has experienced devastating record flooding. Experts fear that while the waters will wane, flooding could continue throughout the summer if rainfall is heavy, both locally and upstream. Businesses will, and are, experiencing losses - physical, financial and emotional. And, as is always the case, here and globally, those who suffer most are the materially poor who do not have the financial or human resources to rebuild and move on. Clearly climate change is part of the problem, with polar ice caps melting at alarming rates under the ever warming blanket of earth’s atmosphere, the product of human activity more than anything else. Yet there is another voice crying out in the midst of this ‘natural disaster’...the voice of the river, whose plaintive cry is, “Where would you have me go? Your girdles of concrete levees, buildings and asphalt parking lots are binding me, constricting the swelling of my bosom. Where can I cleanse myself when you have taken my plain?”

We are people of beauty. We are drawn to it. We are drawn to the living waters of rivers, lakes and oceans. The desire to live and build along the edges of beauty is natural. We will undoubtedly continue to do so. Yet in doing so, we must always remember that we are entering a home that is not ours, that some of our activity in that space is not welcome.

My heart aches for those who are suffering. We must continue to pray for them. But we also must be willing to examine how, by our choices, we become complicit in that suffering. This is the paradox of a murky life. We can be grateful to the Divine Creator of Everything for always being with us in the murkiness.

Kathy Flynn OP
Sinsinawa, WI

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