Raven is the pen name used by previous editor, Rich Koster. In his career, Rich has been a teacher, minister, truck driver, and chaplain. He holds a bachelors degree in English from Hope College and two degrees from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, and he has served churches in Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, and Iowa. He was the Universalist Herald editor from January, 2004–January 2013. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the Year 2525
We live on a piece of spinning rock sailing around a very hot star, itself in orbit around a huge galaxy of stars, and our galaxy is just one of maybe billions of galaxies that are soaring through space at incredible speed toward who knows where.
We are homo sapiens, a very, very new species of life on this rock, and our desire is that it be able to support our kin for a good while to come. But we wonder, are we a bit much for this rock to handle? Can we make it to 2525, much less 2125?
A picture of the earth taken from 300 miles up just a couple hundred years ago would probably not have shown any evidence of our distinct presence. Indeed, about the only evidence of life at all would have been the green forest canopy, correctly analyzed, and maybe the red algae swarming in the sea.
We may sing, “This Is My Father’s World,” but the planet is now ours to take care of, at least for a little while yet - if we can keep our dwindling resources from being completely exhausted. If not, then we might be the most short-lived species of life ever to make its appearance on this fast-evolving sphere!!
We say we want to take the “long view”, and then at most we do our projections out a few decades or so. But a true long view for surviving on this planet would will look out at least several thousand years, like maybe to Year 6025.
Nearly everything we plan and do is short-sighted. It is as though we are playing on the sandy shore of Thailand while a little way off a tsunami is gathering force. Our leaders are tragically the most short-sighted of all, trying bravely to sustain an engine of production that is our own worst enemy.
We are caught in a trap of decreasing options and everyone talks about the “market” when they should be talking more about the dirt and water and air that gives us things to market.
We talk about a return to nature. We ARE nature. We are in it and we are part of it, every moment and everywhere. The universe is nature, and if there is such a thing as a “natural order” its scope is at least the distance traveled by our galaxy. All the stars and all the gases and all the comets and all the planets and black holes and white dwarfs are a part of nature. And if energy and heat and movement were to be seen as elements essential to an ecosystem, then that is what our universe is - a very large ecosystem.
So why do we get so excited about picking up some rubbish along a stream while so much of what we do in life is to make more and more rubbish? How can we believe we are returning to nature when we join a birding walk or sit side by side in two bathtubs overlooking a placid lake?
We must at least be humble and admit that we can no longer control the beast we have unleashed on this rock. The beast is our own rubbish-making engine of production, overloading the world market for a preposterously over sized mass of consumers that is spreading all over this planet like something in SYFY and either exploiting or destroying just about everything in our path. Like a devouring plague of locusts we are.
As in the film, Soylent Green, might one day we have to resort to devouring our own kind?
Yes, we are homo sapiens, the “wise man”! We sit at our telescopes wondering if there is intelligent life on some other planet, when we ought to be hoping there is intelligent life on this one.
I remember a cartoon I saw years ago, with two little Martians watching in the sky as the earth blows up. One Martian says to the other, “Ah! There is proof there was intelligent life on that planet.”
Learn From the Children
I finally decided that the whole story as I received it is longer than I had room for, but it is such a wonderful reminiscence that it begs at least to be summed up and reported.
You may have seen it by now, the story of how a special needs little boy was given the chance to play baseball, then was called up to bat with the other team ahead, bases loaded, and two outs, and he “hits” a game-winning home run.
But it was the players on the other team who “won” the real game that day. For whenthe pitcher realized what was taking place he came up very close and pitched the ball underhand oh so softly, so softly that on his second throw, Shay managed to get his bat on it and dribbled it back to the pitcher.
But when everyone expected an easy throw to first and the end of the game, the pitcher sent the ball sailing high over the first baseman’s head, with Shay careening into the bag and then heading to second amid shouts of “run, Shay, run!”
By the time Shay made it into second and the first baseman’s throw went sailing into left field, everyone was yelling and shouting, all the boys on the field and the fans in the stands, all caught up in this divine drama unfolding among them. “Run, Shay, Run!” they cried out in one mad marvelous chorus, as the little boy who his whole life long had dreamed of playing baseball with the boys now rounded third and came charging down the line into home.
“If you will just turn around and become like little children,” Jesus said, “you will surely enter the dominion of the Highest and the Best.”
A similar drama played out on a high school softball field in Oregon as one of the shortest players on one team hit her first ever home run, only to miss first base and then, in turning around, to fall down with a severe ACL tear in her knee. Unable to get up and run, and with her teammates and coaches barred from even touching her, the league’s best home run hitter, a player on the opposing team, went up to the umpire and asked if it was within the rules for players on her team to touch the fallen girl.
He said it was permitted, and so this diamond heroine and a teammate went over and picked her up and carried her around the bases, leaning over just enough for her toe to touch each bag, until everyone converged in a glorious celebration as the girl was set down again on home plate.
“Let the little children lead them.”
And finally, I call your attention to the poem on the previous page, just one of many marvelous pieces of verse written by a very marvelous boy at the tender age of 10 years old.
Mattie J. T. Stepanek died of a rare form of muscular dystrophy just a few days short of his 14th birthday, but after leaving us with a lifetime of poignant verse and showing a wisdom defying his age.
Well known country singer Billy Gilman put a bunch of Mattie’s poems into song in an album that went to #15 on the Top Country chart,and the poem on page 21 is one of them.
All of Mattie Stepanek’s anthologies of verse were national best-sellers, and his very special friend, former president Jimmy Carter, told the 1350 persons gathered at the boy’s funeral, that Mattie was “the most extraordinary human being” he had ever known.
As we think about what is right and wrong, and how we can make the best use of the time that we have been given on this planet, it may be well for us to listen and learn from the children.