Evening Sermon, September 13, 2001

In the autumn fruit trees stand ripe for harvest. With its fruit the tree offers its own living substance to the earth. It makes this sacrifice so that new life, so that new trees, so that more fruit can grow and develop. That fruit surrounds an inner kernel, a seed. When the fruit falls, the kernel, the seed, is born. Life continues and metamorphoses. God made the tree’s fruit so abundant that when cared for by humans, the fruit is harvested so that the tree’s abundant life can feed others.

This week we watched in horror as malignant forces harvested human lives. We struggle to make sense of such madness, for we know that a human life is not fruit for the taking. Human lives are not food for some malignant appetite.

We have been shown, again and again, pictures of overwhelming destruction. And in our proper horror before the face of evil, we may ask ourselves how a good God could allow such things to happen. The answer is that the capacity for evil is the shadow side of God’s gift of free will. God values our freedom of choice. He values it perhaps more than we do. Our freedon has such an enormous value because it is the only way we will learn to develop his creative love. God has taken an enormous risk in creating human beings free to choose. We are free to develop ourselves toward good or towards evil. God allows evil to exist. The function of evil is to rouse us, to stimulate us to develop our true, higher humanity.

We are beginning to awaken after the shock and daze of this week. We are beginning to come to ourselves again. We are beginning to react. But we are also beginning to realize that our very natural reactions, reactions of fear, of anger, are perhaps not the best that we can do. For it is very clear: evil attempts to disable the best of the human spirit.

One of the ways evil tries to disable us is through fascination. We have found ourselves gazing in horror at images of destruction and suffering, repeated over and over, until we realize that now it is our souls that are now being invaded. We need to practice soul hygiene. We need to keep ourselves informed, but not overtaken; open, but not overwhelmed. We need to do this because we must control our arousal. We need to find and maintain our calm, upright human center.

In 1910 Rudolf Steiner said:

We must root out of the soul all fear and horror of that which is approaching mankind from the future. How fearful and anxious we make ourselves today before that which lies in the future, and especially before the hour of death! Human beings must make their own a calm composure in connection with all feelings and sensations directed toward the future, behold with absolute equanimity everything that may come, and think only that no matter what comes, it comes to us out of the wisdom-filled guidance of the world. This must be placed ever and again before the soul.