Of Love… and Justice
This is like a retro post… as in the content contained here are two separate pieces that I wrote last week. But to call them separate is not entirely true. They inspire each other. The first is a reflection I wrote late at night while cooling off from a run (I’m training for a half-marathon for some crazy reason). The second is a prayer I wrote the next day in preparation for an interfaith prayer service at the Idaho State Capitol as part of our advocacy to cover the health care cap in Idaho that has left 78,000 people earning too much money to qualify for medicaid but not enough to qualify for tax credits to be able to afford their own health care. People working but not earning enough. People caught in the gaps. People just like you and me.
So one is about being moved to love of the struggles going on all around us… the other is a reminder that love is verb… which may just be justice. And we are all equally on the hook to see that it happens.
May you love justice and justly love!
Wednesday, March 16th
Sitting out on the front steps in 38° watching the clouds pass in front of the moon while steam rises off my sweaty head.
The world is calm. Quiet. Sleeping.
My house sits up slightly above the floor of the valley. From my front steps I can see thousands of lights. Street lights, porch lights, office lights… cars of late night folk returning to work, or going home, or visiting a friend, or wandering the street to avoid whatever it is they are avoiding.
And that’s the rub.
The world isn’t quiet. The stillness is deceptive. Each of those lights represents a person hiding a secret, a family struggling to keep the house and feed the kids, a marriage falling a part, a covey of people without homes huddled close to stay warm. A son who doesn’t know how to care for a mother who once cared for him or a daughter who wishes she could ask for help but has too much pride to admit the need. In an upstairs room a young teen contemplates how to tell a parent they are confused about who they are and they feel their body is lie telling the world all sorts of untruths about who they are in their heart of hearts… and next door their neighbor contemplates a body that didn’t survive as long as their mind and a world that is collapsing in on itself but they don’t know how to admit it. Not in the light of day at least….
The world sounds calm but our minds and our hearts are churning.
It’s not that the world lacks hope… or joy. There is abundant joy. But somehow our joy and our hope and care are ships passing in the night. We can’t see. We can’t feel. We just don’t know. We feel like those thousand lights are the stars… each so far and alone from each other reliant only on their own inner power for life.
But it’s a lie. It’s one glow that this city casts. Our glow. Our life. One life. We care. We are good. There is joy. Not one of us need be alone. Open your heart to the world and live for one another. Trust me. When we stop judging ourselves. So we can stop judging each other. And love… Life will be so abundant we will wonder what took so long.
I look at those thousand lights again.
They are all me. And I will not be whole until we are whole. Until the peace and calm I feel sitting here outside is echoed deep within.
All the way down. Down down down… To the marrow of our being. Where we are one, in love with our self.
It will not be easy getting there. Thank God I don’t have to do it alone.
Thursday, March 17th
God who is Spirit and Life,
We are gathered here this day seeking light in the darkness.
In a world of abundant goodness, space, and life – we find ourselves all too often contemplating a scarcity of care. We have developed a skill of not seeing those in need. When we turn to look upon the fields and valleys, streets and buildings of our world with the blinders taken off of our hearts and our eyes truly open we see so much neglect, so much need within the body of your creation and the people of our world, we see so many who have been forsaken in the marginal spaces of our society.
We have institutionalized an ability to be blind to this need. This is our sin, God. We have developed mental and emotional calluses that tell us, its not our problem… its not our responsibility. Calluses that ensure our heart strings are not plucked by the human need around us. We do not see the existential angst of the working family without resources enough to feed and house and provide medical care for themselves despite days and nights of hard work… how do you choose which way to neglect your child? Our calluses keep us from seeing the elderly couple down the street whose savings proved shorter than their lifespan… we tell ourselves its fine because we won’t do that to ourselves… as if market production, disease, and accidents are something over which we have complete control. We callus ourselves with myths about the people who are without homes… like they want it that way, they are lazy, its their fault, or they wouldn’t know what to do with money so why bother? We make them out to be less-than. A less than human people… just a condition… and then we do not have to care.
We live in a world where life is meant to flourish. Where ecosystems are meant to sustain the health and the welfare of all. Where our the structures of our society are meant to build up abundance and enough for all. But rather than create balanced provision and care we seek systems that benefit our own good and forsake the ones our calluses allow us to ignore. We have fostered a world where medical care is a privilege and not a right, and care for another is considered charity and not our shared responsibility as the interconnected web of life.
This day, O God, we come to stare into the voids of care we have created and allowed. We stare down the structures of society misaligned to promote inequality: comfort for few and suffering to many. We comes to raise a cry that this isn’t right. That we are, in fact, each other’s keeper. Not privately but in all our lives, private and public, individually and corporately – from the doorstep of our houses to the halls of our government. We come to gather to say its time to close the gap in medical coverage and in our care for each other.
So we pray to you O God to heal, to bridge, to cover the gap.
Not the gap in our medical coverage – we’ve got that God. That one is on us, and there is no reason we cannot get that done.
It’s the gap in our hearts that must first be filled… and healed. It’s the callused eyes and feelings that must be broken open to feel the plight of our neighbor and be moved to love. Oh Spirit of life, bridge THIS gap, unite us care and love for one another – provide us that healing which is beyond our kin, Mend the brokenness within us so that we may work on the broken around us -and structure our society and our lives to building one another up, to heal, to house, to provide an “enough” for all that none must live in existential angst of deciding which need to forsake.
And in the meantime, in the gap of time between now and when justice might roll down in abundant waters for all – stand in the gap God. Stand once again in the gap with those for whom your love has always glowed the brightest… those whose lives are an everyday struggle for basic needs. Stand in the darkness of our creation and remind us, remind us all… that we are not alone.