Looking out my window beyond the splash of pink cherry blossoms, I see an unsheltered man in the little park on the trail organizing his treasured belongings for the day.
He has spread a blanket on the grass beside his commandeered shopping cart and organized his treasures into categories that make sense to him. He is retrieving them one by one and arranging them neatly in the cart.
My mind immediately jumps to an analysis of the injustices that may have catapulted the man into this situation and my heart weeps that he endures it as his well-being is threatened by the pandemic crisis. A new question replaces my grief and anxiety:
What is he teaching me? The lesson lives in this advice from the PBS drama, “Call the Midwives,” ‘You just have to keep on living until you are alive again.’ Keep on living each moment with integrity. Like my unsheltered teacher grabbing a little bit of control over his situation, I have to be creative and intentional in choosing control when it’s possible and faith when control evades me.
In what small ways can you choose to keep on living through this pandemic until you are alive again?
“False alarm, everybody…turns out the coronavirus only kills old people.” @ahleuwu
Laura Dorwart, Ph.D. on Twitter: “Trying to claim disabled people aren’t regularly and systemically devalued, disposed of and dehumanized is pretty tough given all the “don’t worry, Real People won’t die, only Non-People like old and disabled people will.”
Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday 3-11 Seattle in response to a reporter’s question about the penalties for those who ignore social distancing mandates. “Penalty is you might be killing your grandad if you don’t do it.”
Elderly and disabled persons, among other groups, are often considered disposable. I do not refer to the medical community which has to make necessary decisions about who lives and who dies in extreme emergencies. I mean us. Let’s take the word “only” out of these discussions about covid-19.Instead, we could say, “primarily affects…”
The Common Good lurks Under a subterfuge of denial:
Only the old die. Only the disabled die. Only the poor die.
Come back, Common Good. Cast your expected aura Of empathy-energy around us. Redeem our frightened and frazzled spirits.
When the city of Milwaukee experiences violent crimes now, something different happens. The Black Strings Triage Ensemble arrives and re-consecrates the space by surrounding it with healing classical music.
This hopeful story has moved me deeply, taking me back to a time in my life when I lived in a house that overlooked the railroad gate to Naval Base Kitsap. I held vigil as shipments of fuel propellant entered and left the base. Afterwards, I knelt on the tracks and prayed. Burning cedar became a cleansing sacramental which reclaimed that space and the empty space in my soul. It began the healing process.
Take solace with me from the actions of these musicians. Who knows. Maybe some musicians among you will feel called to begin this healing ministry in your city.
Although we are not celebrating Rosh Hashanna today and the calendar may not mark the beginning of another year, I offer Marge Piercy’s poem to give us hope that every day is new and we can come back after immigrants are rounded up like cattle and congresswomen are told to go back to the country they were born in if they don’t like this one.
The head of the year
The moon is dark tonight, a new moon for a new year. It is hollow and hungers to be full. It is the black zero of beginning.
Now you must void yourself of injuries, insults, incursions. Go with empty hands to those you have hurt and make amends.
It is not too late. It is early and about to grow. Now is the time to do what you know you must and have feared
to begin. Your face is dark too as you turn inward to face yourself, the hidden twin of all you must grow to be.
Forgive the dead year. Forgive yourself. What will be wants to push through your fingers. The light you seek hides
in your belly. The light you crave longs to stream from your eyes. You are the moon that will wax in new goodness.
I simply have no words for the treatment of migrants at America’s southern border, so I rely once again on the words of poet Jack Gilbert and the sculpture of Albert Gyorgy to convey feelings intense enough to move us to action.
THE ABANDONED VALLEY
Can you understand
being alone so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the
well so you could feel something
tug at the other end of
Members and staff of Seattle Mennonite Church recently sat down with members of the LGTBQ community to hear their need for respectful inclusion and their practical suggestions for responding to it. My faith community took a step on our journey toward radical hospitality by changing the signs on our bathroom doors. Pastor Amy’s blessing in our names holds us responsible for personal and communal conversion. It is a step toward realizing our commitment to radical hospitality.
In worship Sunday we blessed our new all-gender restroom signs and some trans and rainbow pride stickers for our windows to the world and (re-)committed to our ongoing work of radical hospitality and of (un-) and (re-)learning. Then one of our amazing kids Sunday School teachers invited his class to make a list of “things people say are boy and girl things” and discussed who decides which are which (kid answer: we do). Then they made their own trans flag with those things. #church (Pastor Amy Epp, Seattle Mennonite Church)
Blessing for gender-inclusive and trans welcome signs
Based on Acts 10
by Pastor Amy Marie Epp
God who is all gender and no gender,
God who became incarnate in a body, who is no-body
God who created our bodies and identities
and is present in each of our bodies,
expressed through our identities,
Bless the work of the Gender Hospitality Ministry Team,
As, on behalf of our congregation
they seek to make explicit our welcome
of your beloved queer and trans bodies
into our worship and spaces.
May we truly proclaim, holy and what you have called holy.
May we proclaim welcome what you proclaim welcome.
May we, like Peter, see clearly the vision
that allows us to lean deep
into our identity as a body of radical hospitality
May these signs – markers for our doors and windows –
also mark us.
May they mark us and our doors as open.
Open to your Spirit and open to all who enter,
That your welcome may be our welcome.
And that even when we harbor fear and uncertainty
we may use these as an opportunity for understanding
– of ourselves and of our neighbor.
We pray in the name of Jesus,
whose Spirit is with us and welcoming us still.
For the third time on these pages I post this poem with hope and a prayer that nonviolence will replace violence, that deep self will replace ego. I share the poem today in response to the possibility of yet another war in the Middle East.
In June, even though I couldn’t see the lake I at least had a piece of it. On this August morning thick underbrush enveloped me and I lamented the loss of the lake.
At first I felt closed in and irritated that the city had not followed through with its mandate to prune. What about the common good and our need for beauty, after all? A practice of sitting ensued and soon I felt protected by the semi-circle of green, holding me, shielding me from the pending evil about to descend on Portland Oregon today.
Earlier I had sent loving kindness to the far right hate groups Patriot Prayer and Proud boys, due to hold a rally there. I sent loving kindness to the counter-protesters. I imagined nonviolence prevailing.
At the lake I imagined the overgrown green surrounding all of them with love and nonviolence and I called on all that is holy to shield them from the evil of hate. The little lake that I love is not what I needed. Nature knows best.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch” has experts all over the country monitoring hate group activity. Here are some links that detail the rally in Portland today. Heads up Washington State voters. Our primary ballots are due this coming Tuesday. Are you aware that one Republican candidate running for U.S. senate is Joey Gibson, the leader of Patriot Prayer?
The headline in the Seattle Times reads “For third day, grieving orca carries dead calf in water.” (July 26, 2018). As I write this morning it is the sixth day the mother has carried her dead baby on her nose, diving down deep to retrieve it whenever it slips off. I don’t have words to express how I feel. The photo says it.
Elephants also mourn, holding wakes for fallen elephants. In a PBS production I saw a herd come across the remains of a bull elephant. They circled the skull caressing it with their trunks, even lingering over it. Around and around they went, emitting those low rumbling sounds humans cannot hear by ears alone.
I mourn that many humans no longer hear. We seem to have forgotten how to care enough for one another to hold vigil.
Breathing in I care
Breathing out I release indifference
Breathing in I care
Breathing out I release hate
Breathing in I care
Breathing out I release fear of the other.
Breathing in we care
Breathing out we release indifference
Breathing in we care
Breathing out we release hate
Breathing in we care
Breathing out we release fear of the other.
May the merits of this practice extend to all sentient beings in the universe.