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“This is more than I can handle,” said the floor nurse looking down at me, her meaty arms drawing me toward her full bosom, her faded scrubs suggesting years of experience. “Let’s call upon the Lord. He’ll help us get what you need for that pain.” Her words wrapped soothing compresses around psychic wounds and multiple fractures, caused by tripping over my vacuum cleaner. My body felt like a ruined city. This occurred in June 2017.

The compassion of that floor nurse opened me to an enfleshed Sacred moment that companied my terror, one of several spaced through my long life. Such experiences, then and now, afford me a lens through which to view Creator God’s involvement with us, moment by moment, as Ukraine’s nightmare stokes global angst and analysis.

Within the carnage, within towns fed into shredders, within the resolve of two million Ukrainian emigrants, within the Russian “slow down,” appears the age-old conflict between good and evil: It’s always been there, re-forming planet Earth’s landscape and history. Throttled nations still rebuild upon ashes of grief; individuals regroup; work start-ups abound until some normalcy appears—for however long.

Yet, despite restored cities—Old Town Munich is one example—the seven deadly sins still hide out in psyches, fomenting irritation, restlessness, and discontent. Power becomes god and governments become inflated and armed conflict ensues. Between 1946 and 2012, the Uppsala Conflict Data Program has recorded thirty-two such conflicts, with deaths, around the world, as found in the Journal of Peace Research.

Still, Creator God’s compassion for the work of his hands promotes healing and restoration for everyone who wishes. The global prayer for Ukraine intensifies. I repeat again: What’s really behind the Russian “slow-down?” 

It seems that monuments honoring notables with charismatic gifts leave larger-than-life impressions upon viewers. Such is the experience studying photos of the thirty-foot sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr., commissioned by the Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin and erected at the West Potomac Park next to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This was in 2011.

King’s star flamed with his nationwide support of the Montgomery bus boycott, in 1963, but sputtered with his blood-stained shirt on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968. For fifteen years, his biblical passion interfaced with racial segregation, poverty, human rights violations, and the Vietnam war—enhanced by his bass voice trained in oratory. Thousands joined sit-ins, marches, even suffered killings, burnings, beatings, and imprisonment. Deep was the hope for peace that swept our country.

Most remember pieces of King’s story, influencing the nightly news during those years.

But what did happen? In my perception, the MLK sculpture suggests a clue. Standing erect in suit and tie, his eyes piercing off into the future, his arms folded, his right hand clutching a sheaf of papers, he seems bound to the stone from which he was chiseled, his lower legs, unfinished. Seen from behind, the stone also casts a shadow; in the analytical psychology of Dr. C. G. Jung, the shadow symbolizes the undesirable aspects of our unconsciousness. That Dr. King was not immune to such aberrations is obvious. He had his enemies.

And grief spilled upon cracked sidewalks, just beginning to flower that April evening.

I am glad—Still more to be gleaned from my study window this morning:

The finest mist freezes, midair, and saturates the plank fence across the backyard; it decomposes the twiggy circumference of the empty sparrow’s nest, from the summer, lodged among branches of the snowflake verbena. A few of its monkish leaves still clings as if grieving the loss of the chick’s family.

Beneath the shrub, the crystal droplet swells from the tip of a fallen leaf, its indecision like a toddler’s first steps: there is security in holding on.

Sudden movement in the corner of the yard distracts me. A mature squirrel, its pelt blending with the trunk of the London plane tree, pauses, then scrambles to a higher limb and disappears. Below, snow swirls pattern the bleached grass with feathery fingers. More melting islands of what looks likes snow creates rivulets across the pavers of my patio and slinks into the muddy corners, across more spent leaves. The ground appears juicy, its remote preparation for spring, in the making. The softest of breezes seems to slumber this world, dormant with life.

Prayer easily follows sloshing around in play boots stamped with ladybugs.

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