Dear Seeker, In these extraordinary, perilous times let us call upon the pervasive, penetrating Presence, of the recreative Spirit of Truth who is peace, wholeness, healing deeper and wider than division, destruction, fear and fanaticism.
I offer this ancient invocation, reframed for our time. Let this intention resound beyond the walls of your heart as you set this Spirit loose to breathe over the face of our fractured, fear-filled nation.
An ancient blessing renewed, for all who are heart-sore, worried or wondering at this turning of turning:
Deep Peace of the running wave, and the cleansing of the waters. Deep Peace of the flowing air, and the clearing of the skies. Deep Peace of the soft rain, and the shelter of friendship. Deep Peace of shining stars, and the memory of timeless beginnings. Deep Peace of the quiet earth, and the kinship of all creatures. Deep Peace of the gentle night, and the warm hearth of family. Deep Peace of the ancient stones, and the tenacity of life. Deep Peace of the heart of Mary, and the tender touch of every mother. Deep Peace of the Christ child, and the Holy One guised as enemy and kin. Deep Peace of our merciful Maker, and the Spirit who makes us one. To the terrors of the night, and the troubles of your day, Deep Peace. Celtic Traditional (Adapted)
The heart of this nation has grown calloused, their ears are hard of hearing and they have shut their eyes; so they might not look with their eyes, listen with their ears, understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.
[Beneath the menacing pulse of helicopters, troop carrier convoys command empty downtown streets, and armored police columns cordon crosswalks
while armed militias posture before protestors. Now, my adopted hometown heaves under the raw realization
that justice, who long ago lost her blindfold, sees only in black and white.
Under curfew, behind barred doors, in flickering candlelight we wait, watch, worry, as we listen to sirens and pray for peace even without justice.
Like so many families in other darkened cities, distant countries, far-off times and places, we wonder: How did it come to this and where do we go from here? Louisville, Kentucky; September 24, 2020]
Seeker, What role does your faith play when some lives and deaths seem to matter less than others?
When curiosity and desire for conquest carried our European ancestors to these shores their cultural cargo included death dealing disease, weaponry, and a divine dispensation to control natives and colonize nature.
With the cross came the crown.
Papal declarations permitted the exploitation of human communities and consigned them to carve out gold and silver from the earth to gild crucifixes and candlesticks in far flung cathedrals.
With the crown came chains.
Named and claimed for the distant monarchs of Christendom, verdant wilderness was tamed and turned to cultivation. New plantation populations were needed to raise cotton, sugar, tobacco; and raise profits.
With chains came commercial opportunity.
As African families were abducted, shackled, shipped, sold into slavery, more moral manipulations permitted prelates, preachers and presidents to impose divinely ordained hierarchy and hegemony; a travesty to cleave God’s family; making some subservient and others supreme.
With commercial exploitation came crucifixion.
Our faith story in these lands remains insinuated in the filaments of this trifurcated root: genocide, nature desecration and slavery. Still, ‘Cristo Negro’ cries out breathless from the cross and we remain shackled to a shameful legacy of privilege and supremacy.
With emancipation comes reckoning
How do faithful people account for participation in racial sin; make amends, affect repair?
The Examen – listening, looking, learning— predicates penance. Confession precedes forgiveness. Truth-telling comes before reconciliation. Reconciliation demands restitution. Restoration requires reparation.
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.
May we recover courage and shake off the shackles of crown, commerce and cultural crucifixion, to freely enter together the undiscovered country where we black, brown, indigenous and immigrant people are all cherished.
When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression, and war.