Louis Armstrong’s iconic song, “Wonderful World,” is the default ringtone on my cell phone.
When it rings in public and others hear the song, all of our faces light up. Everyone loves that song. For a moment, strangers and I hear the same thing and are brought together in beautiful communion. What can be better?
Aside from the deep theological meaning of Pentecost, with the Holy Spirit bursting with wind and fire on the Apostles, Pentecost is a vision of the Kingdom and of what it would be like if the Kingdom did come on earth as it is in Heaven.
One doesn’t have to have religion to have a vision of “a commonwealth of peace and freedom”* and to yearn for it and work for it here on earth.
It starts with listening, deep listening, not only to other people, but to creation. To the wind in the trees, to the trees themselves, to the “ancient songs” of the birds, to the stars and the moon, to worms turning the earth, to bees garnering nectar in flowers, the waves on the beach.
All of it, ALL of it, humankind and everything above and below and in the earth, has a tale to tell if only we would listen and hear. Once hearing, we cannot go back to ignoring. We cannot go back to thinking we are better than anyone or anything else. We are all connected.
On Sunday I leave for Washington, DC, for the Poor People’s Congress, the Rev. Dr. William Barber’s continuation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaign that was cut short by his murder.
People from at least 40 states will gather to learn and to listen. We will address issues of poverty and all the “isms” that intersect with it with Presidential candidates. Special delegates will testify before Congress. Workshops will teach us how to be better advocates.
I personally know I will need to work extra hard at listening. As the AA slogan goes, I’ll need to “take the cotton out of my ears and stuff it in my mouth.” I’m 66. There’s a whole new vocabulary out there and I have no doubt that I’ll be hearing a lot of it. My “old fartism” could easily be aroused and get frustrated.
But this conference is not only about now, but about the future. The near future is in the hands of people younger than I am.
So I will listen deeply and hope to celebrate Pentecost again.
*from The Lord’s Prayer according to the New Zealand Prayer Book