“…This is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” – Genesis 11:1-9
“…In our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” – Acts 2:11
The crumbling bricks of Babel’s ziggurat
still shape the land beyond mistake.
Imagine what they might have done
if they had only stayed together.
Imagine? I have seen it.
Each year machines of death advance.
Each year the wealthy gather plunder.
Each year we live in threat of global fire.
What human beings can do united
is matched alone by things that human
beings can do without intent. The tides
rise higher for our ever-growing folly.
I can’t but think a wise and caring God
would scatter human pride before it cost
uncounted workers health and lives, before
it cost a city the necessities of life.
And then: a Pentecost, a festival of Law,
when language’s divisions find reunion,
Babel’s judgement finds reversal.
What can not human beings do now?
One question, God, whose Holy Spirit
cannot be predicted or confined:
Were we ready to unite? Were we wise
enough? Are we? Are we ready now?
A poem/prayer based on Genesis 11:1-9 and Acts 2:1-21, the Revised Common Lectionary Alternate First Reading and Alternate Second Reading for Year C, Pentecost Sunday.
The image is a depiction of the ruins of the Tower of Babel, southern view, as described by Pietro della Valle and reported in Athanasius Kircher’s book Turris Babel (1679). Drawing by Athanasius Kircher – rotated crop from https://archive.org/details/turrisbabelsivea00kirc/page/n6/mode/2up, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=104471384.