For George and many more

I remember still, my 8 year old self, recently arrived from Puerto Rico hearing about the U.S. Civil Rights movement, and even then, in my spirit knowing that God is a God of justice. Even then I remember being repulsed by the thought that some could hate others in such a way. Since then I’ve felt my God-created spirit moved by issues of injustice — particularly around racial and ethnic minorities — like almost nothing else.

Over the years, however my way of living into that stirring has changed during different seasons. Injustices have offered new lenses, people and experiences — personal and not — to me.  Sometimes I’ve been afraid to name them too loudly; too scarred from previous reproaches; too worried that I already have too much against me; too tired from my own fighting. Sometimes I’ve written, I’ve preached, I’ve marched, I’ve called, I’ve taught. And sometimes I’ve done not much else than grieve and groan inwardly.

Today I am again in a new place.

Once again, the trauma of unjust, dehumanizing systems that for generations have engrained themselves in the psyche, the thinking, the acting, the speaking of cultures, cannot be denied as it is projected on our very screens. White supremacy is alive and well, and it impacts daily the lives of black and brown persons in our country.

Calls and texts from my black clergy sisters and brothers, voices that are exhausted or angry, or numb, remind me of the words of Dr. King that the middle is no middle at all, but a choosing of the side of oppression.

And while my family is no stranger to injustice, mistreatment, and abuse on the rural country roads of Florida, I know and I see that I too carry privilege. That most days my skin is light enough and my diction and vocabulary impressive enough.

So what does one do with privilege? How does one not become the moderates that King spoke of? What are the ways we use the power we have been given for the work that God calls God’s people to? How does one use one’s voice, one’s typing fingers, one’s voting hand, one’s financial gifts, one’s children’s books, one’s podcast listening ears, one’s marching feet, one’s studying mind, one’s business running, one’s observing and speaking self?

They must all be used for the freedom of others — for our freedom is also found there.

So today I begin again.

I begin again with lament.

We must begin somewhere.

I begin with confession.

It comes much before reconciliation.

I begin with prayer
and tears
and song.

So, God,
Spirit,
Redeemer,
Restorer,
Shalom-bringer,
Justice completer;

Hear our prayers:

For those whose blood has been spilt for centuries, with no record and no video to…
For those whose videos have been seen by millions and whose killers have still gone free…
For the women who are afraid when their husbands go out jogging…
For the dads who wonder if they will see their children grow…
For the clergy who while in a pandemic are afraid they’ll get shot because they’re wearing a mask while visiting a parishioner….
For those who are tokenized yet whose voices remain on the margins…
For those who are too tired to speak…
Fo those who are too scared to speak…
For those who with raw throats continue to speak…
For those who are trying to figure out how to love those who persecute them…
For those who internalize the inhumanity attributed to them…
For those whose grief leads them to violence…
For those for whom we forget to pray…
For those who can’t breathe…

Hear our prayers, also:

For those who ignore the voices that cry out in pain…
For those who claim that talks of justice are divisive and that we have already… progressed enough…
For those who expect the hurting to have the solution…
For those who claim to see no color and who thus refuse to acknowledge it’s beauty…
For those who can’t and won’t see beyond their experience into the realities of others…
For those who defend un-defendable rhetoric spoken from the highest offices…
For those who will not listen…
For the allies who in their wokeness leave collateral damage in their wake…
For those who know better and don’t do better…
For those who hold power and yet sit idly and comfortably by…
For those who are unbothered…
For those who can sleep at night…

And hear our prayers:
For those who long to listen and be changed…
For those who are willing to be uncomfortable…
For those who are willing to be proved wrong…
For those who are willing to love out loud…

Hear our prayers; heal our hearts; change our lives.
Amen.

P.S.

I’ve also been singing this song today — a spiritual I think of often, entitled: I Want Jesus To Walk With Me. I share it here after a quick recording on my phone:

 

Michael Brown/ Pamela Turner/ Laquan McDonald/ Walter Scott/ Freddie Gray/ Eric Garner/ Tamir Rice/ Sandra Bland/ Antonio Arce/ Philando Castile/ Atatiana Jefferson/ Breonna Taylor/ Sean Reed/ George Floyd/ and many more

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s