Dear People of Ascension.
It’s ten days prior to publication of this piece, as I sit and reflect. Aside from the scriptures of the day I’m writing for, my most immediate reference material is Mother Liz’s heartfelt message of Sunday May 29, in which she shared both pain and wisdom in the aftermath of unfathomable back-to-back tragedies in Buffalo and Uvalde. Yesterday, in Tulsa Oklahoma, there was another horrific slaughter in a hospital – the twentieth mass shooting since Uvalde. Twenty. In about a week. The two hundred and twenty-third this year – and it occurred on the 101st anniversary of one of the worst episodes of racial violence in our nation’s history. Our nation. What does that even mean anymore?
I started trying to draw comfort and strength from today’s portion of Paul’s letter to the Romans. But I confess that suffering being what produces endurance wasn’t very helpful. Maybe another time. I’m not even sure how I feel, in this moment, about the notion of hope not disappointing us. The only thing that seems at all helpful in this passage, at this time in the life of the world, is the part about God’s love being poured into our hearts. Because, while it’s really difficult to even imagine helpful action steps, let alone the coming together of opposing socio-political camps, I feel most certain that the best of what we hope to bring about, must indeed proceed from hearts that are full of God’s love and, even more, a cultivated awareness and acceptance of that love.
That cultivation is like prayer. It happens in many and various ways. All kinds of decisions, day to day. Choices, about how to spend time, energy, money, etc. I sometimes feel that the powers and principalities of this world prefer us to be overwhelmed into non-action. But we don’t have to be. Learning and leaning in can help.
And there’s more – for heart and hope.
LEANING INTO DARKNESS by Velma Frye and Macrina Wiederkehr
Draw me into the depths.
Take me down to the holy darkness to Love’s roots.
I lean into that darkness,
The darkness that surrounds me,
This nurturing room for my restless spirit.
Let me borrow your eyes, Beloved.
Then I shall see in the dark, though for answers I do not look.
It is enough to wait,
To wait in the holy darkness,
This nurturing womb for Love’s yearning.
Listening to the sound of silence,
And leaning into the song of darkness, I wait for You.
Waiting with purpose for who I will become,
Waiting without agenda for things I cannot change,
I become one with the One I love,
For I have seen too many stars,
Too many stars to let the darkness overwhelm me.
I keep vigil:
with my heart’s eternal questions, and with my deep longings.
with those places in my being where the light has grown dim.
with those whose hearts are tired, & with those whose hope is lost.
for those who sleep and for those who cannot rest.
for those with fearful hearts, and for those whose hearts are angry.
for those whose courage is waning and for those whose strength is growing.
for those who suffer, and for those who keep vigil.
I keep vigil. I keep vigil. I keep vigil. I keep vigil,
For I have seen too many stars,
Too many stars to let the darkness overwhelm me