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.



  1. Dear Miles,
    This is late in coming because I responded 3 weeks ago but pushed the wrong button and it erased.
    I wanted to tell you how grateful and deeply relieved I was that you used the word "rage" in describing your reaction to infants and children being separated from their parents at the border.
    That word describes the seeming paralysis I have felt for many months now, but I haven't dared use that word.Personally , I think it's psychologically appropriate and healthy in some cases ,and I don't think that God would mind at all as long as our ACTIONS are in line with those of a Christian.(This includes all manner of demonstrations and civil disobedience , just as 2 among many activist behaviors.)
    It was great that you suggested music as a solace!I hauled out all of my old CDs of hymns and what peace they give!Loved singing Olam Chesed Yibaneh and will try to pull up on the Web.
    Thanks again for your sincere and eloquent BLOG.

  2. Why would you quote the Torah in a "Christian" church?


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