ON THIS BEAUTIFUL SUNDAY AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES, our sermon deals with loss. Very near our cabin is a straight, tall, Deacon pine, 120 years of age. Still strong and green, it is infested with bark beetles and this week we must take it down and remove it—to protect the cabin and the forest. Several hundred yards away a section of the woods of some 40 red pines is dead and dying from a more extensive beetle outbreak, and they must all be removed and mulched—again to protect the living trees. This misfortune arrived due to a summer windstorm I could not clean up fast enough. We will mourn all our friends, and the temporary devastation. But such is life in a forest.
In our country, we have lost half a million souls, largely due to ineptitude and malice. Countless people are still suffering and frightened, due to the pandemic, economic loss, more ineptitude by a state government, and weather that makes no sense. While the party of anti-democracy and lies and incompetence throws itself a weekend orgy to worship a golden statue. And our nation tries to soldier on and waits to see if the fascistic threat further metastasizes.
I have been asked why I and others continue to call attention to such things after the election. It is because the fact of the maniacal Leader’s departure from office has not removed the threat—anymore than the winter weather has removed the threat the bark beetles pose to my woods. American Fascism is still, as Winston Churchill said, a “gathering storm.” And with its twin threat—climate catastrophe—it poses an existential challenge for our time. Even as we mourn the loss of hundreds of thousands of our friends and loved ones
In my forest, the Church O’ The Pines, we will, hopefully, soon be able to excise the disease. In our country, it is a more difficult matter. But strong and historic steps simply must be taken. We cannot leave our nation at the mercy of a dishonest, malign, and remorseless cult, that thinks nothing of rushing headlong back to the Jim Crow days of voter suporession, intimidation, and cancellation. That defies science, medicine, and the common good, all to institutionalize minority rule. That attacks our own Capitol. The end of the filibuster? Yes. Statehood for D.C.? Yes. Stopping the futile pursuit of legislative ‘bi-partisanship? Yes. More? Yes.
Yesterday at the Church O’ The Pines, Sparky the Cardinal sang his head off all day, celebrating warm temps, sun, and Spring. This morning he has been more quiet. But the sun just broke through, and for the last 5 minutes, Sparky has run through his entire repertoire of skips, slurs, trills, warbles, and “What-Cheers!” He shows no sign of stopping. He is still hopeful, and confident of Spring. I am glad for his voice.