The effects of that bomb obliterated much of Hiroshima--and vaporized some of it. There were reports of people fused into pavement and glass--or just vanished, with a trace remaining at the pavement. The reports of the survivors who walked miles in search of help or water are grim. And many of those survivors would die of the effects of radiation in the coming years.
In a strange twist, today is also the Feast Day of the Transfiguration in Orthodox churches, the day when Jesus went up the mountain with several disciples and becomes transfigured into a radiant being. Those of you who worship in Protestant churches may have celebrated this event just before Lent began, so you may not think of it as a summer kind of celebration. Pre-Reformation traditions often celebrated this day in conjunction with blessing the first harvest.
I find it an interesting conjunction, and of course, I've written a poem about it.
Ides of August
We long to be transfigured in the Holy Flame,
to harness atoms to do our will.
At the thought of what they attempt,
leaders and scientists tremble.
On the other side of the planet,
people vanish into the unforgettable fire,
wisps of cloth pressed into concrete,
the only sign that they existed.
We cling to the Ancient Lie
of the violence that can redeem
us. We purge and plunge whole
landscapes into the land of ash and smoke.
The sun rises over a steamy swamp
of decimated land and decapitated dreams.
Like Peter, we long to harness Holiness,
to build booths, to charge admission.
Christ turned into Carnival.
No need to do the hard, Christian work:
repairing community, loving the unloveable.
No, we seek redemption in the flame.
We pin our hopes on the nuclear
family, small units than can withstand the fission
of everyday stresses and detonating loss.
We cast away thousands of years of human
knowledge; we forget the wisdom of the pack.
We head for our hermitages in the hills,
hoping to be transfigured into hardy-stocked survivors.
Today is also a great day to celebrate the transfiguring possibility of power. After all, not all uses of power lead to destructive explosions. Some times, we find redemption.