In Europe the fires have settled into older grooves of living patterns. There are the daily cycles of times for conversing, eating, smoking, watching old bell towers in sunset light. But where once the weekly spiritual nourishment came from the steeple centered ornate hovels of the antiquated church buildings, now the fresh life occurs in galleries and sidewalk cafes.
Here the conversation turns to spiritual things as wine is drunk and faces turn to gather in the latest fashions. This mixture vexes many in the institutional settings, but in many ways it has always been the center of life in europe–this eating, talking, conversing of the textures of everyday life. When the church gradually went colder in western europe, the spirituality gradually shifted out onto the sidewalks and alleys, and was held in the discourse of the arts and political arenas.
When we look at the history or patterns of movement of a place, we look to see where Presence enters and dwells. Where does the Divine hover, and we find the most life there trying to break forth into songs of deliverance into a higher realm.
A friend delineates four powers in civilization: military, religion, politics and economics. One can easily sense in western europe a shift away from religion as a base for conversation. But spirituality is harder to shake–in fact, impossible. We are all spiritual, and so at night in our final hours, at death, or when our passions are truly stirred, we find ourselves hungry to speak from and touch the transcendant. This is what we feel in the cafes of france, the alleys of belgium, the long pathways of spain; we sense the spirituality of life, which is inescapable to each of us.
As a whole, europe indeed has become the dark continent spiritually. And many of the centers which once knew God as daily life have chilled and are in need of visits from those whose seeds grew from these very centers. We see the Africans being sent back into europe to thank it for its long ago parenting, and to speak from life back into places which have become the echo of life. These bring His Voice back into spaces where once His Voice resided. This is hope, for as one¹s children return carrying fresh and sturdy Life in them to impart, we are once again reminded of our first loves.
Europe at one time in history knew God deeply, and was meant to parent many nations towards His Truth. But at a point, a heart shift occured, and she grew cold and lost her eyes to see and ears to hear. And so she lost His Glory, His Fire to carry.
In England, the story is different in that she has had many permutations of belief and great shakings. Perhaps because she was and is an island between worlds, but primarily through her prayers and His Grace, her light never went entirely out. For this reason she is able to carry the winds of revival which have often first touched down in America, and translate them into european discourse. Europe needs England and what she carries and bestows from the younger nations who still have a living faith. And the younger ones need the parent to guide them in wisdom and patience towards their inheritances. The nations need one another just as the joints must be properly joined to know the full revelation of God.
We enter a time now, when to know the other is unavoidable. But more it is desirable as a way of getting know the many faces of God. When we see the nations as reflections back onto His Face, we start to get more intrigued at entering their various nuances. To have I-thou encounters with others is a basic way of coming to know our Source, Our Father who art in heaven. Regardless of where a person or nation is on their journey, they are worth knowing because God loves them, and is parenting them into place. God loves nations, and says that the desire of all the nations is ultimately His Son Jesus. So, we know that each has a destiny and identity that is worth coming to know and love with Him.
Many in America have wondered how the vivacious entreprenuerialness of the states is to relate to the more cautious parental voice of europe. Well, in many ways. And in different ways depending on the country. God is doing different things in beligium than He is in france for instance. God parents uniquely with each of His Children. And some need sterness while others permission to just be themselves.
America is to be a faith carrier and youthful leader–helping to call forth and bless into being many struggling nations; to defend the oppressed is part of its commission as well. It truly is an eagle nation, but also a place of blessing to cover the other nations who need refuge. America has in fact over it a covering for all nations. This is obvious in that it is made up of all the nations. This is why it is always odd to me when one nation hates America. It is like hating oneself. However, America has not always been wise in its treatment, not mature in its understanding of other nations. I think this is ironically true of western europe in general. Ironic, because in many ways all the seeds of america came from england and europe. Nevertheless, like an old battle between children and parents, we have not always taken the time to understand our parents, and to get to know them on their terms. There is much to learn at this time from europe, and much to help rekindle in her.
Old wisely placed fires in farming villages. For years,
we wait to see the old patterns proove themselves
as Autumn comes rustling internally turning, again,
into faith based on remembrances of
these seasons, which keep passing, flickering
as they go.
I find that one way to enter and start loving other is to name what moves me in poetry. When I encounter Europe, it is the long old patterns of farm life and even urban life in neighborhood open markets which let me in, so to speak. I see that europe has the wisdom which comes from cultivating the same land for a long time, and knowing its inner patterns over time.
The shadow of this is at times a lack of dynamism or room for sudden new growth–in short, it is hard to surprise europe. For surprise has to do with joy, and we all need joy. This is part of what America brings to the table of the nations–sheer pleasure of living. America brings a big wow! and everyone remembers what it is like to be excited by something again. We need the wow, and we need the wisdom of seasons. For the nations need one another in order to reflect and burn into the full image of God, He intends us to be.
The point of fire is to burn. This season all of our fires need to ignite so that our true faces will be illuminated. All the nations are The Lord¹s, but to come to love one another requires us to enter His Love. For we are to love what He loves. My way of loving is to name the intricate beauties I see in others, and to bless those parts out into His Light. These words are a beginning attempt to do that. To love the foreigner is a way of God. Whoever is foreign to us, we must come to see in the way He sees them, and love them with His Love. In this hour, my prayer is that we can begin to do this. May we become indomitable in our surge to love one another as God loves us!