I’m feeling pretty beat up right now. For the past few days, many of my friends have been posting online about heart wrenching confessions of feeling unsafe in their own country because of the color of their skin. Due to the paleness of my own skin, I do not have the same fears for myself or my family, only for my friends. It is fundamentally unjust and un-American.
I have read posts from my friends talking about #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter. We must stand with and support those who are being told their lives don’t matter by saying with them that their lives do matter. Failing to do that doesn’t sound like one is saying #AllLivesMatter, it sounds like saying, you don’t believe black lives matter, and hence you don’t really believe that all lives matter.
When we say that one group of people’s lives don’t matter, it becomes too easy for others to say that other groups of people’s lives don’t matter. The murder of young black men and the murder of police officers are part of the same problem. We need to say together that #BlackLivesMatter and that #BlueLivesMatter. We need to say that #MuslimLivesMatter and that #GayLivesMatter.
We need to join with Jesus in saying #SamaritanLivesMatter and #TaxCollectorLivesMatter. We need to say that #LepersLivesMatter and we need to acknowledge that we are all lepers in one way or another.
I’m feeling pretty beat up right now; I’m feeling pretty black and blue.
On my way to work today, like has been the case for many days over the past couple of weeks, I listened to a recording of Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism. I had to get to work a little early because CHC started offering free Ta’i Chi lessons in Middletown, at 8 AM for staff and 12:15 for the general public. Online, I shared various posts about celebrating the end of Ramadan.
At a meeting about a medical assistants’ training program we are starting, we talked about corporate social responsibility and how that relates to providing good jobs. On social media, I read some of the outrage about the most recent black man killed police officers.
A couple friends share Social Justice Is a Christian Tradition — Not a Liberal Agenda and others shared an image from NASA that reminds me so much of paintings by William Blake, returning me to the beginning of the day, and Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism.
On this Fourth of July weekend, I’ve been reading a little bit of The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. This castle is a metaphor for our souls. St. Teresa writes,
Rarely do we reflect upon what gifts our souls may possess, Who dwells within them, or how extremely precious they are. Therefore we do little to preserve their beauty; all our care is concentrated on our bodies, which are but the coarse setting of the diamond, or the outer walls of the castle.
As I reflected on this, I thought of those who would whitewash the exterior of a deteriorating mansion in the name of upkeep. It doesn’t take much to look beyond the whitewash to see the decay, and beyond that, to get a sense of some of the beauty of yesterday year.
It made me think of our fascination with ‘Abandoned America’. I spent some time looking through the pictures of abandoned churches. I remember time I have spent on church vestries, at times as a treasurer or clerk, talking about how to keep these institutions financially stable, how to afford the upkeep of the buildings. I remember discussions about how the church needs to get outside of the building, think outside the box, and I see the struggles of trying to maintain a beautiful building, some of the history of the institution, while at the same time being a vibrant part of a community and not just a dying tradition.
I think of St. Francis being told to “go rebuild my Church, which you see is falling into ruins” and rebuilding the church at San Damiano, as well as the greater church.
I wondered about churches struggling in Connecticut. The Episcopal Church has some interesting Tables, Charts, and Research Reports. Using Studying Your Congregation and Community you can get historical data about members, attendance and income. This led me to look at churches for sale, which has plenty of listings.
It seems like there is some sort of allegory that could be written here, especially apt if we stop to wonder what it is that we are celebrating this weekend, what it is that makes our country great.
This morning, as I got ready for church, I read various Facebook posts, including one with a picture of a current U.S. Presidential candidate, with the words “If you believe America should always be first! Please Like and Share!”
What does that even mean? First in what? I thought of the toddler screaming, “Me first! Me first!”. I thought of people who shout down differences of opinion chanting, “USA! USA!”
My thoughts drifted to what the Bible has to say about being first. Matthew 20:16 - “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” I thought of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper.
No, those who paint their faces like the flag of their country and chant “USA! USA!” in hopes that a leader will come along, to “make America great again”, to protect America’s safety and prosperity from people who are different from us, are worshiping A New Golden Calf.
“That looks like cancer”,
the bereaved mother
who had lost her son
said to the handyman
carrying his bottle
of some weird
I thought it looked
more like solvent
or perhaps one of
those nasty chemicals
they pump you full of
“At least I’m safe here”,
as she adjusted her hijab
looking down the street
at the homeless man
to the drunks
when three young black men
chasing a stranger
down an alley
as something went wrong.
The sun hung high in the sky
shining on the just and unjust,
the Muslim, the Christian and the agnostic.
It would be three more hours
before she could break
her Ramadan fast.