Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tremors and troubles across our world . . .

From: Our One Great Act of Fidelity by Ron Rolheiser

There’s a story told of a young Jewish boy named Mordechai who refused to go to school. When he was six years old, his mother took him to school, but he cried and protested all the way and, immediately after she left, ran back home.  She brought him back to school and this scenario played itself out for several days. He refused to stay in school. His parents tried to reason with him, arguing that he, like all children, must now go to school. But to no avail. His parents then tried the age-old trick of applying an appropriate combination of bribes and threats. That, too, had no effect.

Finally, in desperation they went to their rabbi and explained the situation to him. The rabbi simply said, “If the boy won’t listen to words, bring him to me.” They brought him into the rabbi’s study. The rabbi said not a word. He simply picked up the boy and held him to his heart for a long time. Then, still without a word, he set him down. What words couldn’t accomplish, a silent embrace did. Mordechai not only began willingly to go to school, he went on to become a great scholar and a rabbi.

What Rolheiser reflects to the reader about this parable is that within the Eucharist, “God physically embraces us . . . The Eucharist is God’s kiss.”  Having pondered his beautiful reflection, I couldn’t help but pray that at this time in our lives, humanity across the world needs an abundance of hugs and kisses from God. We try to seek understanding and walk blurry clear paths of hope and faith in regard to the earthquake in the region of Nepal, and the “quakes” here in the United States as protests and eruptions occur as fallout from the Baltimore incident resulting in the death of Freddie Gray. 

Today is also the one year anniversary of the shooting death of the young African American, Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee, WI. At this time, I lean back in my memory and recall the other deaths of Eric Gardner in New York, Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Tony Robinson in Madison, WI. Overnight there have been a number of protest marches in the cities of Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, New York, Minneapolis,  and a few other cities.  There is “quaking” and much tension going on beneath the everyday movements in cities across this country. The deaths of these men have caused our nation to once again ponder, analyze, consider, evaluate, and move forward with naming the “illnesses” within our society which oftentimes are ignored, repressed, denied, or dismissed.  Yet social media will not let this happen.

So why am I walking in these waters of unrest?  This Sunday in our liturgy, we hear the Gospel parable of the Vine and the Branches.  I believe that being a branch on the vine is a place of great intimacy and belonging.  And so I ask, what is the Good News for us as we reflect on this parable?  How do we all belong to one another as we share this weary planet?  How do we hold the pain of the families, friends, and communities whose “branches” have been severed?  How do we respond in compassion and justice to humanity across our world that is suffering from natural disasters, war, poverty, and many other injustices?  So I pray that God will hug and kiss us all until we are willing to stop struggling, blaming, kicking and screaming at one another.  May we come to that place within us that beckons us to be willing to hear the heartbeat of the goodness of humankind so that truly we can respond in loving kindness again and again and hear, understand, and act with justice and liberty for all. May we all remain and abide in God as we walk in this time of great quaking in our cities, our nation, and our world.  Hold us, O God, and let us hear your heartbeat . . . What words can't accomplish, may your silent embrace do so.

A prayer for unrest in BaltimoreIn the midst of tragedy after tragedy, our nation faces its darkest demons from its past.  Some say those demons have never been defeated.  Some say they were defeated and this is all a show now.  Both are right and both are wrong.  The fact of the matter is our nation has a lot of work to do.  Our policies and laws and programs leave a lot to be desired.  Make no mistake; America isn’t some kind of modern “Promised Land”.  We can, though, work together to shed light in those corners where it is hidden and bring the scabs in to the light to try and bring healing.  Leave the extremists of all sides to froth and grumble.  They will never be satisfied.  Let us be reasonable and work for something that is real and concrete and merciful and healing. (Author Unknown)

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