Psalm 42 in 2016

“Why art thou cast down, Oh my soul?”
“Why do you write like you’re running out of time?”
“Why aren’t you running for office again?”
“These things I remember as I pour out my soul”,

“how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng”;

The festive throng,
like those at The Pulse
or The Bataclan.

Yes. I feel God is calling me,
calling me to something important,
something I do not yet know
or understand.

Yet the path seems unclear,
the hurdles insurmountable.
What can I do
in the face of such suffering?

How much difference
does my smile,
kind word,
or prayer
for the homeless
alcoholic
in the street
near my office
make in a world
where one deranged man
can easily kill fifty?

How can I make a difference
when it seems like such a struggle
to simply provide for my family
and help keep the house clean?

How can I find joy
amidst all the suffering
toil
and fatigue?

So I write,
“like it’s going out of style”,
and pray
and say a kind word
to those around me
who are suffering
even more than I am.

It’s all I can do,
the rest is up to God.

Daily Morning Devotion – June 15

It is hard for me to pray during this time of great grief. I spend extra time in contemplation, just being with God, just letting the Spirit pray through me with groans and sighs too deep for words. I pray of specific friends, many LGBT or close friends and relatives of LGBT people, who are grieving or in fear.
W, P, A, T, Y, D, and R all come immediately to mind.

For me, I don’t know anyone who was killed directly but a former classmate of mind had a friend murdered in Orlando. I pray for those who grieve, and for each person who died. Here is a list of those who have died, their pictures and a brief bio.

In a Facebook group, I pray for whom prayers have been asked, especially for M, K, J, E, T, B, and M.

Finally, I get to a point of thankfulness. I offer prayers of thanksgiving for C and for S who have shared great prayers online. I offer prayers of thankfulness for those who have organized vigils across our country and for those who have attended these vigils. I try to share information about the vigils when I hear about them.

I end my daily devotion with the lessons and prayers for the feast day of Evelyn Underhill and download some some recordings of her writings.

Now, I move on to start my daily tasks.

(Categories: )

Reflections on Orlando

Terms of Engagement

I seek to have open and honest discussions about what has happened. Fundamental to this is a willingness to listen to what others are saying and a willingness to change one’s own opinion. If you are trying to score points for your side, I’m not really interested. If you believe that President Obama is a Muslim or was somehow involved with the Orlando shootings, I cannot take you seriously. I cannot even be your friend on Facebook. The same goes to people who believe that the right to have a weapon that can fire over 180 rounds a minute or have magazines that contain more than ten rounds trumps the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Grief

My first reaction is grief and sadness. I recognize the desire to address the problems of hatred and gun violence in America. It is urgent. However, I believe it is important to own our grief, to sit with our grief, to not rush off to do something right away, as a means of not dealing with our grief. If you haven’t wept for the victims in Orlando, for those who loved them, and for our country, that may be the most important thing you need to do right now.

Solidarity

A friend posted on Facebook

Reach out to someone who is Latinx and a member of the LGBTQ community and let them know that you value and support them. If you don't already know someone like that, it's time to make a new acquaintance. Their heartache knows no bounds today.

Current estimates are that about .3% of the population is trans. What percentage of the people you know are trans? I have around 3000 friends on Facebook. Off the top of my head, I can think of seven friends that are transgender. To match the demographics, it should be about nine, so I’m about in range. There are probably others that are I just don’t know their gender identity.

Three to four percent of the population identify as LGBT. I don’t know what percentage of my friends identify as LGBT, but that sounds about right. A my friend above suggested, if you don’t know someone who identifies as LGBT, you need to find some LGBT people to become friends with.

Likewise, about 17% of the population is Latinx. What percentage of your friends are Latinx?

You need to show solidarity and shared grief with Latinx and LGBT friends.

Praying

Another friend posted

Don’t Pray for Orlando, Fight Against Hateful Ideology

As many of you know, I am exploring becoming an Episcopal priest. I understand the need for calls to action, but I believe saying “Don’t Pray…” is misguided. It creates a false dichotomy and promotes black and white thinking: either we pray or we do something.

If we say instead, don’t JUST pray, or don’t pray without doing something, or don’t pray as a political statement as an effort to avoid taking responsibility, then we are saying something much truer and more important. Prayer should change us. Prayer should move us to help make the world a better place.

Congressman Jim Himes framed it very well in his speech, No More Silence. Moments of silence are important to deal with grief and to show solidarity with others that grieve. However, if your job is to serve the common good and when you are asked what you are doing to address hatred and gun violence in this country, and all you offer is silence, you are not doing your job. “When you bow your head and think about what you will say to your God … there will be silence.”

Counter Narrative

Besides the obvious efforts of improving gun safety in America, there are other things that we can change. A good starting point is to think about counter narrative. Congressman Himes does a little bit of this in talking about the victims. Do you know more about the gunman or the victims? We need to know the victims. You can start with this list.

The official narrative talks about the gunman’s support for ISIS. The official narrative doesn’t talk about his interest in the New York Police Department, his posting selfies of himself in unofficial NYPD garb. It doesn’t fit the story that people are trying to tell us.

There is another counter narrative that people may mention in passing, but doesn’t seem to get as much attention as it should, the gunman’s history of domestic abuse. This counter narrative jumps out at me because of a Muslim woman I know who was a victim of domestic abuse. In Muslim communities, too often women who suffer domestic abuse are told to be quiet about it, to not speak out. We need to encourage all people, and perhaps especially right now, Muslim women, to speak out against domestic violence.

Religion

Some of my atheist friends are quick to blame the violence on religion. They claim that no one kills people in the name of atheism. They may even be so bold as to claim that atheists have no beliefs. They may believe that, but it sounds self-contradictory to me. Blaming people of various different religious beliefs, include a belief in “No God” and the religion of “atheism” is just as bad as blaming people of various sexual orientations, gender identities, races, or ethnicities.

In the discussion about the “Don’t Pray” post, a friend wrote,

in this country, right now, religion has been playing a dangerous role in promoting hate speech and violent acts against those who don't fit the mold. So right now, religious organizations across the country need to take a hard look at the part they have been playing in the outbreak of gun violence and mass murders.

This is something many of my religious friends have also been saying, especially my Methodist friends lamenting the lack of support for LGBT people at their General Conference which recently ended. It is something many of my Episcopalian friends have been talking about as they celebrate the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church at their synod to pave the way for allowing same sex marriages, despite threats from others in the Anglican Communion.

Father's Day 2016

Father’s Day
Juneteenth
two thousand and sixteen:
The Psalm asks
“Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?”
and I respond
because no one heeds the epistle
“There is no longer Jew or Greek,”
and I think of Orlando;
straight or gay,
Muslim or Christian,
and all the other
false divisions
for we are all one in Christ Jesus.

Then I read the Old Testament lesson
and the news headlines,
but the Lord was not in the news headlines,
and I read the social media posts
but the Lord was not in the social media posts
so I sat quietly
and wept
for Stanley
and Amanda
and Oscar
and Cory
and Tevin
and Javier
and the list just goes on and on
and the Lord was in
the sound of sheer silence.

So I read the Gospel
and the news headlines
and found our woes are called
Legion
for many demons
have entered our political discourse.

Then I returned to the Psalm
“Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?”
and I replied
“I will yet give thanks to God.”

Discernment

“I don’t know how to love him”
plays in my brain
as I read this week’s lesson.

“A woman of the city,
who was a sinner”
and I stop to think
of my own sinfulness.

George Herbert asks,
“She being stain’d her self,
why did she strive
To make him clean”?

Yet I find myself with Mary
stain’d my self
not knowing
“What to do, how to move him”
“Should I scream and shout?
Should I speak of love,
Let my feelings out?”

On Facebook
a friend shared a link
“Thinking about ordination?
Think again”
and the soundtrack
of Jesus Christ
Superstar
swells in my soul:

“Yet
If he said he loved me
I'd be lost
I'd be frightened”

“Entering this ministry
will be one of the hardest things
you will ever do”

After fifty six years
I’m still trying to find
the ministries
I’m called to.

In our Baptismal Vows
we are all called
to seek and serve Christ
in all persons.
That is hard enough

But when and why
are we called
to be
deacons,
priests,
bishops,
or other roles
in the church?

The article warns
that for the ordained
“You’ll be made to feel insignificant…”
“You will feel a deep sense of loneliness…”
“You will have friends who will walk away from you…
“You will disappoint people…”
“You will disappoint yourself…”

Even just in discernment
I have felt most of this.

Another song from
Mary in
Jesus Christ Superstar
comes to mind.

“Can we start again please?”
As I wander down
this discernment path
when it gets tough
and I know that I cannot do this
alone
I long for the days
when I could blissfully
convince myself
I had not heard God’s Call.

Then an upcoming lesson
responds
“No one who puts a hand
to the plow
and looks back
is fit for the kingdom of God”

I am not fit
for the kingdom of God.
I have disappointed people
I have disappointed myself.
I have disappointed God.
I am not worthy
so much
as to gather the crumbs.

“But thou art the same Lord,
whose property is always
to have mercy”

The article ends,
“Maybe you can’t do this.
That’s okay.
Because God can.”

And Mary’s lyrics come back
“He scares me so
I want him so
I love him so”

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