Fear Is Our Oar Now

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Fear is our oar now.
Thrown overboard is love.
And we are sinking.

The cracks spread below
The surface of the water.
Hate slowly fills us.

Sharks surround, waiting
To feast. We don’t lift our eyes.
“Fight for what you have!”

Love asks for too much,
I guess—to open our hearts
And loosen our grip.

We would rather be
Great instead of brought low and
Now we are sinking.

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Some Questions I’m Asking

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After the shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas this last week and the attack at the Istanbul airport the week before, my soul will not rest, my heart is moving toward despair, and my body actually hurts with the loss of life. I don’t have words, but I have a bunch of questions that I’ve been wrestling with as I’ve listened to the news, read various blog posts, and scanned through social media posts. Here they are:

What does it mean to live in our world today?

What does it mean to be white in the United States? How is the lens through which I see every victim and perpetrator impacting my heart and mind and response?

What does it mean to be black in the United States…and how do I know the answer to that?

Who do I need to sit with and listen to?

What authors do I need to read?

What are the things I want to be right about and why?

What statistics are right? Does it matter?

How am I benefiting from unjust systems, laws, practices, and presumptions?

What do I do with the despair I feel?

What topics, questions, conversations make me afraid? And why?

Who do I want to be wrong and why?

What are all the things that are making me so sad?

What ways of thinking or assumptions need to be renewed, challenged, questioned?

What history am I believing and has this caused me to be biased for or against certain people?

Who will be a light?

What lens am I seeing the world through?

What does love (and not being right, being respected, being loud, being defensive) look like right now?

What is my hope really in? Really.

Do you see us, Lord? Is your heart breaking?

What is mine to do?

How can I be on the side of redemption, restoration, and reconciliation?

A Lament in Haiku

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They will know us by
our love, he said. But we are
known by who we hate.

Go and do likewise,
he said. But we have gone and
done the opposite.

You are the light of
the world, he said. But we spread
darkness and judgment.

Love your neighbor, he
said, and your enemies too.
But we say, Not them!

And Jesus weeps for
what we have done and not done.
May his kingdom come.

Lord! Lord!

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–A reading of Matthew 7:21 and 25:44

Lord! Lord!
You didn’t mean the bread on my shelves, did you?
The food pantry does great work.

Lord! Lord!
You didn’t mean the water from my faucet, did you?
The wells in Africa serve hundreds.

Lord! Lord!
You didn’t mean my room, my bed, did you?
The Syrians believe different things.

Lord! Lord!
You didn’t mean my shirts, my jeans, did you?
The racks at Goodwill have all sizes.

Lord! Lord!
You didn’t mean placing my hands on fevered heads, did you?
The hospice workers and nurses are trained.

Lord! Lord!
You didn’t mean face-to-face with a criminal, did you?
The mailed Bibles will bring lasting change.

Lord! Lord!

New Mercies

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New mercies always seemed like supernatural,
hard-to-miss displays of souls coming out
of darkness and bodies coming into healing.
Look at that! How amazing!

But then I caught the brave dandelion heads
waiting for the noon winds to render them
stems to spread their life;

And a tiny sparrow pick a buried twig out
of overgrown grass to surround
her marbled eggs, beginning to crack.

And I filled my cupped hands with cold, clean
water, lifting them to my mouth to drink.

Look at that! How amazing!