I admit it, I’m a bit of a political junkie. I frequent sites like Politico and Drudgereport all day long. I time my gym visits so I hit the treadmill during Hardball. And like many self-styled progressive, trendy, yearning to be cosmopolitan Mac users, I’m an Obama fan. (In my defense, I was an Obama fan when it was just trendy, not uber-trendy like it is now.) So today is a pretty exciting day for me. It has a Super-Tuesdayesque kind of character. I was up early sipping coffee and watching the pundits on CNN and MSNBC all say the same thing different ways. Then I opened up my prayer book and was struck by the words of the lectionary’s morning Psalter selection, Psalm 146:
3Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
5Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob
whose hope is in the LORD their God…
Obama has raised political interest and excitement and even seems to have eroded, albeit ever so slightly, so of the overwhelming sense of American cynicism where all things political are concerned. He’s bright, articulate, and might be the sort of candidate that could unite Americans in what is one of the most divisive political seasons in recent memory. All this is good. But Obama, like Hillary Clinton and John McCain is a mortal prince in whom there is no help. His plans and policy objectives may be good but their goodness is limited like that of all created things in the shadow of the Fall. One of the tragic aspects of the human condition is that we are constantly trying to attain lasting hope from good but fleeting things. Craig Barnes describes this sense of restlessness in his book Searching for Home:
Whether we want to admit it or not, the longing for home is welling up from the soul. This may even be the most enduring trace of God upon our lives. It’s as basic to the biblical literature as Adam and Eve who long for paradise, Abraham who leaves home in order to find a promised land, the exiled Hebrews who are stunned to be stuck in Babylon, and the prodigal son to whom the memory of the father’s house returns. The entire biblical story depicts men and women roaming from one disconnected experience to the next, unable to be at home where they are, uncertain that they will ever find where they ought to be…When we awaken to the identity of this one who is with us, we discover that paradise has found us, along the way. And in that rests all our hope.
So much of our lives are lived looking for the next thing that will give us a sense of deep and lasting fulfillment and hope. But inevitably whatever we thought would do it for us doesn’t, be it a job, a house, a lover, or a cause. We are still left with the profound sense of longing that always characterizes human existence. No created thing can put our restlessness to rest. Only our Creator who comes to us as Redeemer can do this.
So whatever the outcome today, it’s importance is relative. The enduring reality and truth that Dante discovers in his spiritual pilgrimage remains the same:
Everywhere He reigns, and there He rules;
there is His city, there is His high throne.
Oh happy the one he makes his citizen!
-Dante, The Inferno, I.