A few years ago I attended a lecture given by an evangelical Catholic priest. It was very informative, and I came away with a new word. Metanoia. It was added to my word collection in one of many journals, and filed away for future reference. I’m hauling it out today in the form of a blurb and poem I wrote in 2009:
Are we praying for ways to redeem the world or planning ways to destruct it? Remember Saul on the road to Damascus. God stopped him in his tracks on that hot, dusty road and struck him first with blindness and then with metanoia, a change of heart. Saul the persecutor became Paul the saint. God can do that in today’s world too.
World leaders need to do some soul-searching as did Saul. Are they interested in peace or is power their real agenda? If it is a power struggle, God, as he did with Saul, will have the final say. The world is getting a wake-up call. Perhaps the energy spent on threats would pay better dividends if used for promoting peace. Who is perceived to be the most powerful? Let them put that power to use constructively rather than destructively.
God can change the hearts of ordinary people also. Let us each leave our own little world, the world of personal, pithy, private life, and step into the big picture. Let us all step onto the road to our own Damascus and experience metanoia. And now the poem:
METANOIA FOR THE MODERN WORLD
On that long road to Damascus,
the Lord stopped Saul in his tracks:
“Why, Saul, do you persecute me?”
the voice from heaven asked.
“Who are you, Lord?”
the stricken man cried
as he rubbed his sightless eyes.
“I am Jesus whom you persecute!”
the voice from heaven replied.
For three days Saul was blinded,
he neither ate nor drank a drop
until he was convicted
to change the way he thought.
When he saw himself as Jesus did
his eyesight was regained
and Saul the persecutor
became known as Paul the saint.
We need that kind of metanoia
in our modern world today,
let people think before they act
in such destructive ways.
Away with guns and knives and threats
and bombs and words of war!
Hear God’s voice from heaven say,
“These things I do abhor!”
And if we listen carefully,
if we try to be humane,
then surely metanoia
will touch our world again.
Our road to Damascus is just as real today
as it was in Paul’s time…
may we meet Jesus on the way.