This is what the Lord says:
They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back.
I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble,
because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.
Jeremiah 31:7, 9 (New International Version)
It’s been one of the tensest cycles I can remember. It’s time to offer encouragement for the warriors among us. It’s time to acknowledge the lessons we’ve learned at the end of the world.
- A Global Pandemic.
- The Confluence of Systemic Racist Oppression and its effects on Black People in America.
- Too Many Names to Hashtag.
- The Collective Acknowledgement that We Can’t Breathe.
- The Murder Hornets (which showed up and left, or so it would appear). Do you BLAME them?
At a conference I attended several years ago for business women plagued by failing at trying to do and be all things, I learned the threads of this brief exercise. Since then, I have expanded it into a personal practice: I realize that I’m weary; I identify the “why”; and then I do what I need to find rest. Trust me, once you try it, you may view much of your life and your rhythms differently.
Change the Game
So many people confess they are weary. It’s not just the coronavirus. It’s more than just being tired of sheltering-in-place. It is the legacy of battle weariness that those new to the fight just now feel. It is realizing that,
- Rodney King was beaten over 30 years ago,
- Trayvon Martin would be 25 this year,
- Tamir Rice should just have gone off to college,
- Neither Breeona Taylor nor Ahmaud Arbery will ever celebrate another birthday.
What if we’re not supposed to pour out all we have before restoring our portion? What if what we’re supposed to give is our overflow? What if we reframed Sabbath practice as a necessary pause, and learned to experience more often than just every seventh day? What if that is precisely how we change the game?
Take a moment. Undertake with me a brief exercise to help you picture it:
Imagine a large bowl holding 100% of your energy. Only, we are not bowls. We are colanders or, more accurately, cracked vessels desperate for The Potter’s repair. As best you are able, learn to be 100% in the space that you’re in. When you work, be 100% present. When you rest, be 100% at rest.
The pandemic and all it ushered in forced me to acknowledge first, and then embrace, my brokenness. Once acknowledged, I learned to praise God for all the cracks that let the air and the light enter in. Having made space and peace, I found time each day for silence and stillness. There is a time to be quiet. Quiet and unafraid. To be empty and still. We fear empty, as though something is lacking. We fill everything with junk and noise, and yet feel unsatisfied, because lacking God to fill our voids, everything we’ve filled leaks. What if Sabbath is less a day and more a rhythm? What if we’re doing it all wrong?
Self-Care for Warriors
It took 400 years for America to become this broken. It will take some time to make it right. We cannot build the Beloved Community if we do not protect ourselves and one another.
- Feed your body like it’s a thing you love.
- Hold. Be held.
- Laugh, because warfare requires a sense of humor.
- Say the words. George Floyd called his Mama because he needed her. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t there.
- Fight for your joy like your life depends on it. Because it does.
- Be naughty. Mischief is good for the soul. Even Jesus laughed. Shoot, Jesus is probably laughing at some of us right now. Can you hear it as a whisper on the wind?
A Closing Benediction, in the words of pastor and theologian, Dominique Gilliard
May God bless you with holy anger at white supremacy, police brutality, and racial oppression, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from systemic racism, xenophobia, and anti-blackness, so that you may sacrificially reach out to them in love, learn how to stand in solidarity with them, and work alongside them to transform broken systems and structures.
May God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we really CAN make a difference in this world, so that we are able, with God’s grace, to help the Church do what others claim cannot be done: truly become an interconnected Body, where when one part suffers, every part suffers with it.
(Mr. Gilliard contemporized a classic Franciscan prayer for this kairos moment)
Lord, In Your Mercy, Hear Our Prayers.