While nursing my morning cup of tea, I watched the news. The juxtaposition of two stories caught my attention.

Story one. A devastating earthquake has flattened large structures in Eastern Turkey, and the body count is rising. The situation is grim.

Story two. Overnight the Northern Lights blazed up and down in vivid array. The dancing hues could be seen as far south as Alabama.

Destruction and beauty, both the result of natural forces, let loose in the universe. We stand mute before both. We who articulate faith in a purposeful universe under the sovereignty of a loving and powerful God have no adequate answers to explain the presence of such disparate forces.

I do not need to turn on the news to view these side-by-side themes. The full range of human experience lies within arm’s reach of us all.

Last Friday evening, I listened to one of our CARITAS guests describe his struggle to escape the shackles of alcohol abuse and dependency. Life is tough. Every day I witness the power? of human caring at work in the kindness and sensitive deeds of one member of our congregation for another. Life is tender. How can one explain the polarities of humanity

Then, before the last sips of my tea turn cool, comes breaking news from Turkey. An infant, 14 days old, is pulled from the rubble. She is alive, and so is her mother. Now beauty and tragedy are no longer separate stories. One is in the midst of the other, a tender moment in a tough ordeal. And when this happens, hope is born. And hope, writes the poet, “gives us courage and energy to contend against all opposition, however invincible it may seem, for the new world and the new humanity that are surely coming.”