I came across this beautiful blessing written by the late John O’Donohue in his book To Bless the Space Between Us. It seems apt for this time in our country. And his are not the only words that are apt—indeed, this is a time to listen to those who are hurting and oppressed because they are hurting and oppressed. Now is the time to open our ears and eyes and hearts. Now is the time to seek to understand and to risk our very selves for the sake of others. Now is the time to lay down our swords. May we be the ones—not who seek to be right—but who extend love.
For Love in a Time of Conflict
When the gentleness between you hardens
And you fall out of your belonging with each other,
May the depths you have reached hold you still.
When no true word can be said, or heard,
And you mirror each other in the script of hurt,
When even the silence has become raw and torn,
May you hear again an echo of your first music.
When the weave of affection starts to unravel
And anger begins to sear the ground between you,
Before this weather of grief invites
The black seed of bitterness to find root,
May your souls come to kiss.
Now is the time for one of you to be gracious,
To allow a kindness beyond thought and hurt,
Reach out with sure hands
To take the chalice of your love,
And carry it carefully through this echoless waste
Until this winter pilgrimage leads you
Toward the gateway to spring.
Now is the time for one of us to be gracious. May it be so.
There will be books written about this time in the United States’ history. I’m sure many are already being written. What does all this mean? Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Where does the truth lie? Do we even have the ability to know anymore? I can’t sort it all through.
The deepest truth I can find in this election and its accompanying atmospherics, for me at least, is the darkness it has revealed in my own heart. Some of what’s in me is a vague and ambiguous judgmentalism that I can’t even quite pinpoint. It just kind of sits heavily in me and operates seemingly without direction. It arises without my conscious permission. It has an unbridled willingness to draw dehumanizing, dismissive, and diminishing conclusions about both entire groups of people and individual human beings, while simultaneously excoriating those who do the same.
It is this that keeps me awake, this darkness in me. It feels like too much to bear. I have wondered (or, perhaps discovered?) if this—the darkness within my own heart—is the burden Jesus was referring to when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I have never quite thought it so until now. But given the tears that come to my eyes and the begging my heart begins to speak as I hear this invitation, this must indeed be what he meant. “Come to me and I will give you rest.” Yes, Lord, here I am.