Saturday, February 25, 2012

SPARK Round 15: done and done

So, despite the scatteredy-ness of my brain these days what with work and so many other things, I did manage to produce a couple of poems for SPARK. Greatly appreciated working with Jenny Mathews on this round, and love both of her pieces.

Jenny's inspiration piece and my response are here, and my inspiration piece and Jenny's response are here.

If you're interested in participating in SPARK at some point, there's deets on the getsparked.org site. I never fail to find this a really nourishing and encouraging experience. Plus, it makes me write, which is sometimes a challenge.

Peace out.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lament – for what is and what cannot be

(Image to the right is "God Speaks to Job from the Whirlwind" by William Blake, and I found it here.)

The below is a piece I wrote this morning for our "Liturgy for Anxious Times" at Church of the Common Table. People responded really favorably, some with how they resolve these tensions in themselves and some by merely acknowledging how it resonated with them, so I thought I'd share it here.


Lament - for what is and what cannot be

Sometimes I fear that You will speak to me out of the whirlwind
and sometimes I fear that You won’t.

Thank You for my job. Thank you for my paycheck… oh dear Jesus, THANK YOU for my paycheck. Thank You for my beautiful nieces. Thank You for the miracle of my little church community. Thank You for my generous, caring, and gentle friends. Thank You for my warm and cozy apartment. Thank You for my health. Thank You for my pleasant and safe walk from the Metro to my apartment and back. Thank You for the cherry trees in the courtyard outside my window.

Sometimes I fear that You will speak to me out of the whirlwind
and sometimes I fear that You won’t.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about the women repeatedly raped by the members of the LRA in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Not a day.

I force myself not to think of the burned bodies of Christians murdered by Islamic militants in Nigeria.

I try not to think too hard about the Government slaughter of innocents in Syria, Iran, and even in Egypt as those people press for change. I try not to think of all the horrific murders in Mexico and Colombia, victims of the drug war. I try not to think of the torture of dissidents in China. I try not to think of those who are “disappeared” all over the world for speaking out against the Governments of their nations.

Every day I live with this, Father, “comfortable” at the top of the food chain –and truly, truly grateful for what I have-- but sick with what I know happens in this world. I know that for many people, I –a privileged white American— have a causal connection to the rest of the world’s suffering… that, to some, I am an enzyme in the gut of the American monster, parasitic and pointless as she goes about ravaging the world.

Sometimes I fear that You will speak to me out of the whirlwind
and sometimes I fear that You won’t.

I cannot shut out the suffering I read about.
And I can’t believe that all those who suffer are among the “unrighteous”
And I cannot do much to help them at all.
And I am afraid that if I complain too loud that I will suffer, too.

And the truth is I struggle to get through the things that concern me in my life. My own life is enough stress for me to deal with. Work, bills, health, life decisions, relationships, chores, the mere getting back and forth between places in the DC metropolitan area… it’s all enough pressure, and sometimes it seems like too much.

I really thought I’d be helping more, LORD. I thought I’d be doing more to help the world.

Sometimes I fear that You will speak to me out of the whirlwind
and sometimes I fear that You won’t.

I love You and I long to believe in Your goodness, and I know that the world’s evil can’t be blamed on You… that it also has to be blamed on the failure of people to act for justice. I know that someone sold the LRA their guns. I know that many of the arms on the world market are there because they were sold after the Cold War. I don’t blame You for that.

But, but… I have seen the righteous forsaken, and their children begging for bread. Not my family, not anyone around me. But I don’t believe that the “righteous” are only those who go to my church. I can’t believe that those who suffer deserve it. And I can’t make it make sense. I can’t just live with it and not feel anxious.

Sometimes I fear that You will speak to me out of the whirlwind
and sometimes I fear that You won’t.

LORD, I want to be a force for hope. I want to be so much more than I am, to be able to take the gifts and the immense privilege that You have given me, and to share that, somehow... to make up for what I have that the vast majority of people do not. On good days, I feel like Esther, with Mordecai saying “you were put here, in this place, for this hour, so that you can influence those in power.” But LORD, I feel so powerless… physically comfortable, psychologically very uncomfortable, and unable to influence *anyone* of importance.

And in truth, I don’t know that justice can be done as long as I stay at the top of the food chain. I don’t know that.

Sometimes I fear that You will speak to me out of the whirlwind
and sometimes I fear that You won’t.

Forgive me, LORD, if my questions are a sin. I know that You know all and that I don’t. I know that You know of the plight of the suffering around the world. But what scares me is I’m sure that those women in the Congo pray, and pray fervently, every day… unless they’ve stopped because they’re too traumatized to pray. What scares me is that I am sure that everyone who is oppressed and terrified prays. So why are the nightmarish, parasitical leaders of so many nations still so powerful? I know that my country has upheld dictators in the past when it served our strategic interests. I know that everywhere that there is (or might be) oil, my country has a strategic interest. This makes me sick.

I mourn for what I thought was possible in my life. I mourn for my own contradictions. I mourn for those who suffer, and I mourn for the blindness of some who do not. I mourn for the vision of America that I was raised with, that is so complicated to me now. I want to hope, I want to help others hope, but I have to be honest with You, LORD, I am afraid for this world. Please forgive me.

Sometimes I fear that You will speak to me out of the whirlwind
and sometimes I fear that You won’t.