Thursday, June 28, 2018

Reflections on Jericho, Silence, and Song

If you have had a chance to meet me, you may have already learned that it is really hard for me to keep my mouth shut. 

I'm an extrovert with ADD. 
I have a lot of excitement about the work the CCU community is doing in Lowell. 
And I have a lot of ideas (some of which are terrible. 

For all these reasons it's not always easy for me to keep quiet. 

But on Tuesday morning, I found myself urged toward silence, as I marched along with at least a hundred other faith leaders around the ICE Detention Center in Burlington, MA. Pastor Peter and I were there to bring witness and show solidarity with those detained who have been separated from their families, in something that we call a Jericho Walk. 

We were there taking part in an ancient ritual, with a modern twist. Based on the Bible story where Joshua fought the Battle of Jericho (Jericho, Jericho), we circle the Detention Center 7 times, praying that God's grace and justice will transform how we treat immigrants in the United States. 

The hardest part of this Jericho Walk for me is the keeping quiet. I often see people I know and love and want to catch up with. I want to stop and talk to the people who look at us funny and wonder what we are up to. I want to chant, sing, and shout. 

But the point is for us to be silent, and pray for change.    

In the silence, I start to pray. But then my mind wanders... the huge spreadsheet of stuff I haven’t accomplished yet for my wedding in less than three weeks. the fears that CCU teenagers won’t think I’m cool enough. the rage I feel when I hear about infants being separated from their mothers at the border.

One thing that really helped me stay focused on silent prayer at Tuesday’s Jericho Walk were the words to a song we sang together, “Olam Chesed Yibaneh”, which in Hebrew means, “I will build this world from love.” When I would start to get distracted, I would say these words over and over, as a mantra of sorts. It helped me quell my rage, silence my insecurities, and settle my anxiety.

I would catch my mind wandering, say these words in my head, and try again.

Olam Chesed Yibaneh
I will build this world from love
Olam Chesed Yibaneh
I will build this world from love
Olam Chesed Yibaneh
I will build this world from love

At Pasta & Praise this week we discussed Psalm 130, and reflected on being in the depths of despair, and finding our hope in the Lord. People around the table started sharing the things they did to be mindful, to wait and to trust God’s loving kindness. Things like being grateful, writing poetry, making art, and walking.

And I realized that for me, one thing that really helps me be mindful is music. If you, like me, need a little help focusing, consider leaning into a song, like Olam Chesed Yibaneh. Or your favorite hymn. Or a Whitney song that gives you life. Play it on repeat, and as it starts to become background, lift up those things that weigh heavy on your heart to God. And listen.

This Wednesday night at the start of Pasta & Praise, Janet led us in a song that could help. Here are the lyrics:

Cause me to hear your loving kindness in the morning.
Teach me to do Your will O God.
Cause me to know the way where I should place my feet
To walk in the pathway of Your love.

Join us on Sunday when Pastor Peter will help us think more about silence, its power and necessity for making us more mindful, and how, ironically, silence can help us find our voice.

Let's find comfort in the quiet.

Let's find strength in the silence.

From the depths of our despair let us wait on the Lord, and trust God’s loving kindness to help us build this world from love.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Things I have done that are Illegal

(for a woman, not so long ago, and not so far away)
These past few weeks on Sunday mornings, following the Poor People’s Campaign, we have learned of just a few of the many challenges in this world to bring justice, peace, and equality to all people. As I have heard stories from different guests and from our own Pastor and others in our congregation, I realize not only how much there is still an urgent need to stand up for what is right, but also that my own personal freedoms are the result of others before me who have made just such a stand. So here is a brief list, in no particular order, of my law-breaking activities as a woman: activities that are not illegal here and now in this country, but which were in recent history or still are in many other places:
  • Gotten an education 
  • Worn pants
  • Spoke in public
  • Chose my own marriage partner
  • Wrote and published in my own name a political poem 
  • Sung in public
  • Taught men
  • Decided between myself and my partner how many children to bear
  • Driven myself to work/a doctor's appointment/a friends house
  • Worshiped at the place of my own choosing 
  • Hiked, camped, kayaked alone
  • Made purchases with my own money
  • Voted
  • Voted
  • Voted
  • Spoke openly on the street with a person who appeared to be of a different religion
  • Spoke openly on the street with a person of the opposite gender
  • Wrote another poem
  • Declared myself a Christian
  • Received equal pay for my work
  • Crossed boundaries of economics, race, and ideology to meet people in different walks of life
  • Wore the clothes and styles I chose for myself
  • Home schooled my children
  • Led music of protest
  • Voted
  • Voted
  • Voted
  • Was granted and exercised legal power to care for my aging parents
  • Criticized a politician
  • Criticized my countries' president
  • Read banned books
  • Marched in a political rally against injustice
  • Traveled internationally
  • Received under the law fair distribution of funds and property after a divorce
  • Received life saving health care from a male doctor
  • Signed my own apartment rental agreement
  • Accessed safe contraception
  • Owned real estate
Read another banned book and went to the voting booth again and again and wrote more poems and played more music, all the while realizing that I have access to such basic human rights only because others have stood up to injustice, have fed the hungry and healed the sick, have even been imprisoned or killed, have spoken the words of rebellion against the suppression of rights and inequality, words which need to be spoken now as much as ever.

What rights do you live with that others have spoken up to procure? That might be in jeopardy even at this very moment. What are the rights of others who are being dis-empowered by politics, economics, racism or sexism, that you and I need to speak up for, as much as we are able, today?

Minister of Music

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