Saturday, December 14, 2013

One year later...

As I watched the news last night, and took in the details of yet one
more school shooting in my beloved United States, I found that the tears were flowing before I even realized it.  On the wake of the anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT this makes: 26 school shootings this year, at least 11,494 clearly defined gun-related murders in the USA and 33,373 gun related deaths since Newton.  Take a moment to look at this graphic to take in the horrible reality of these numbers: /articles /news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

Theologian and bible scholar, Walter Brueggemann, once described lament as "our most vigorous mode of faith... it is a spirituality of protest that recognizes what is not right in the world."  Lament rejects both denial of our reality and blame.  Lament is both clarifying and cathartic. What's more, lament helps us name what is real and what the Lord requires like nothing else.  In Jean Stairs' book on spiritual direction in local congregations, Listening for the Soul, she quotes Timothy Carson who speaks about "listening for the sounds of death that can awaken our souls from helplessness.

Soul-awakening is sparked by truth-telling protests that cry 'the world should not be the way it is.' These very utterances are daring declarations of intent toward a new reality and way of being in the world. They are defiant expressions of confidence that there must be something more beyond death. As paradoxical as it may seem, when the hurt, despair, demand and invective are fully voiced, we are alive in death and have begun to glimpse the possibility of life beyond death.
The poet, Ann Weems, puts it like this in her Psalms of Lament, a text that cries out to be reclaimed on this day.

O God, find me here
where the sun
is afraid to shine!
Don't you recognize your faithful one?
Haven't I known you
since the days of my youth?
Haven't I sung your songs
in the ears of our enemies?
Why then are you silent?
Why have you forsaken me
and left me to wail
in the empty night?
Why do you give me silence
when I ask for
the nightingales song?

O God, have pit on me
and enter into
the city of my pain.
Hear my cry
and come to me
that all might know your faithfulness.
From the icy coldness
of the pit,
I will praise your name,
for like a shepherd
searching for a lost sheep,
you will not give up
until you find me.

Here in the gloom
I wait for the light
of your coming.
Then I will shout
that my God is the God
who does not rest
until all are
gathered in
from the threat of the night.

There is a reason Advent is dark and sung in a minor key - and a big part has to do with lament.

No comments:

trusting the sacramental wisdom of the seasons: the autumnal equinox

Yesterday a little package arrived: my used copy of Christopher Hill's 2003 book Holidays and Holy Nights - Celebrating Twelve Seasonal ...