I imagine this verse is being emblazoned on blogs around the world today.
Last evening, President Obama visited Tuscon to speak at a memorial service in honor and support of the victims of the tragic shooting there last Saturday. Was there anyone hearing his inspiring speech for whom this verse did not bubble up from his/her soul?
I suppose there are. I'm not naive enough to think that everyone heard with the same ears I did. But what I heard was a tribute to all the victims, especially to a beautiful little girl named Christina who should, by all rights, have had an equally beautiful life. The President exhorted the nation to "place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit."
Christina Taylor Green was, from all accounts, an extraordinary child, born on 9/11, and raised by two very loving and aware parents. It seems she was filled with many special qualities...precious gifts that will never be used here on Earth. Such potential. Such tragic waste. Such a shame in every sense of the word.
We can debate all we want the cause and the blame for her senseless death. We can continue to point fingers and deny responsibility and create distractions.
The truth of it is harsh. As it is when any child is killed horribly, senselessly, needlessly...we all share the shame of her death.
The light-filled spirit of Christina is now called upon to use her gifts to lead the wolves, the leopards, and the lions of this country toward a peaceable kingdom. Of course, reason tells us that such a feat is nearly impossible. Great intellectuals have tried and failed. Lawmakers have tried and failed. Men and women of power and influence have tried and failed. Are we really able to coexist peacefully in a kingdom of such diverse and predatory beings? If so, it will take an extraordinary leader to do it.
It will take a child.
Edward Hicks (1780-1849) was an American, self-taught artist with deep roots in Quaker life. The Peaceable Kingdom was a life-long study for him, and he painted the subject sixty-one times. This is his last version, finished shortly before his death in 1849. I think he got it right.
|Peaceable Kingdom - Edward Hicks, oil on canvas, 1849|