Photograph Packet # 39: The Grand Finale: Bursts of Light
Her grandchildren were spending the summer with her, while Hope attended to some personal matters back in New Mexico without distraction. Serena and Conty adored these two little boys. Neither of them had been thrilled to learn that Hope was pregnant on either occasion. But now Sal and Simon were the center of their lives. . . .
As she helped the little boys bathe, she sang songs with them. She taught them one she’d learned herself long ago as a child in Sunday School in Georgia:
Jesus, loves the little children,
All the children of the world;
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in his sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Later that night as they watched the fireworks light up the sky over the water, Serena thought of truths she’d like to share with all her American brothers and sisters, red and yellow, black and white. Each spectacular display of color and light, so American in tradition and yet so Chinese in origin, inspired a different thought:
Burst of light: America is a great dysfunctional family, working on forgiveness and reconciliation among all its brothers and sisters. We aren’t responsible for the choices of those who came before us, but we must all deal with the consequences of our ancestors’ choices. We must do the best we can to treat each other well, starting from today. . . .
Burst of light: A healthy, happy society is concerned with both social justice and private morality; both are equally important. Social injustice doesn’t excuse private immorality, and private moral character doesn’t excuse blindness to social injustice. Serena wondered to herself which number was greater: the number of young Americans who have been killed in Iraq during the past five years, or the number of young Americans who have died in drunk driving accidents, drug overdoses and from sexually transmitted diseases in that same time span. . . .
Burst of light: Anyone who has always enjoyed a middle-class lifestyle or better probably has unrealistic expectations for the poor. Think about it: In suburban or rural America, you must have a car to get to work. Cars cost money, automobile insurance costs money, car maintenance and repair costs money and fuel costs are skyrocketing. Also, if you are barely living paycheck to paycheck, it is much easier to overdraw your bank account or run up a credit card bill. Bounced checks cost money as do interest and late payments on credit cards and other bills. Down payments on houses cost a lot, and rent is money down the drain. It is expensive to be poor. It is also humiliating.. . .
Burst of light: Freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion. If you don’t believe there is a God, why should your beliefs take precedence over the hopes of people more open to possibility? This is America. Even evangelical Christians are entitled to civil liberties. . . .
Burst of light: Keep abreast of the latest scientific knowledge. Don’t be too lazy to study genetics, evolutionary change at the molecular level, and physics. Religious people should not close their minds to God revealing truth through science. If God created the physical universe, then there is nothing we can discover that God did not already know. If scientific truth and religious truth seem to come into conflict, then it is because our understanding of both is still incomplete.
Burst of light: The greatest powers on earth are still the power of knowledge and the power of love. But between the two, the power of love is greater. And people must love each other one at a time, until that love circumnavigates the globe. Government cannot do it for us, and neither can ideologies. We must start where we are.
Thinking of love caused Serena to shift her attention to the wonder on the faces of her grandsons as they gaped at the grand finale of the fireworks display. She felt overwhelmed with love for them.