Chances are that your world is either experiencing or anticipating an awakening earth after months of winter slumber. Grass is turning green, azaleas are splashing the landscape with brilliant reds, dogwoods are sprouting pink and white blooms—little Easter catechisms shaped like crosses and complete, each one, with a crown of thorns. When the birds begin their morning songs these days, and the bees their carpentry, we imagine that the sounds they make are Easter music served up by nature, as the church’s most important holy day coincides with the renewed activity of creation.
Several years ago I attended a museum exhibit featuring the works of Vincent van Gogh. It was not an altogether pleasant experience because there was a man in my group who had a peculiar way of taking in each painting. He would stand about an inch away and then move slowly from one side to another, examining each strand of canvas, each dollop of paint. After he had scanned the entire surface of the painting, he would turn and make his way back across with his right ear about an inch away from the canvas. He examined every single painting in this manner.
Casualties of war: Nearly half of the 3,000 members of the U.S. military who have died in Iraq have come from towns with fewer than 25,000 residents, and one in five have come from towns with fewer than 5,000 residents. Nearly three-fourths of the casualties are from towns where the per capita income is below the national average, and more than half come from towns where the percentage of people living in poverty is above the national average (Chicago Tribune, February 20).