The Ice Is Melting
In his book, The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations, Jonathan Sacks discusses the Millennium World Peace Summit that was held in New York City in August, 2000. Over two thousand of the world’s preeminent religious and spiritual leaders attended the event. The goal of the gathering was to enlist leaders of every major faith community to address the cause of global peace. After much deliberation on this issue, at the end of the four day summit, a joint declaration of commitment to peace was signed.
During the course of the summit, Angaangaq Lybert, an Eskimo from Greenland addressed the audience and said:
About ten years ago now, one of my people came back to our village and reported a strange phenomenon. ‘There is a trickle of water coming down the glacier. I think that the ice is melting.’ Today that trickle has become a stream. So I say to you, while we sit here sharing words of peace: The ice is melting . . . The ice is melting.
In this essay I do not plan to launch into a diatribe about global warming, although I strongly believe it is an issue that our world needs to urgently address. Instead I would like to take the Eskimo leader’s words in a metaphoric sense.
In many aspects of our life, we need to take heed and express motivation and concern because the ice is melting. In the area of faith, we need to develop a strong sense of what we believe and what is true because we live in a world of very diverse religious views. The goal is not necessarily to have everyone believe what we believe but to be able to engage in dialogue and conversation with others so they can learn from us and so that we can learn from them. Religious dialogue is important, because in a world where diverse views threaten to tear us apart, the ice is melting.
On another note, we have numerous persons in our world who are suffering in settings of violence and unrest. They long for peace. They long for rest. They long for an end to whatever struggle or dissension threatens their way of life. For them, the ice is melting.
Or think of the person who has too many balls in the air to juggle. She is simply trying to get from one day to the next, but her life is too overwhelming. There are too many obstacles and too many hindrances. For her the ice is melting.
I could go on and you could certainly add your own examples to the above list. So how do we live in a world where the ice is metaphorically melting? Where is the hope? What happens when the trickle turns into a stream and the stream into a river and the river into an ocean? First of all we have to acknowledge that the ice is melting around us in whatever form that may take. And then it is important to rely upon our faith foundation as we begin to address the issues behind the melting. And thirdly, it is helpful to depend upon our brothers and sisters in Christ as we develop strategies to confront the melting process.
How is your glacier? Is it melting or is it intact? As we move deeper into the autumn months and then into the winter months, may the God of hope and the Christ of peace help us to keep our glaciers, our hearts, and our souls together.