I have long admired the work of Rev. Dr. William Barber II. He is one of the founders of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina. I learned of their work through Rev. Sandlin, also of North Carolina. They go to the capitol every Monday that the legislature is in session to confront injustice and to let them know, "This is not okay."
Disenfranchising the voters (i.e. gerrymandering) is not okay.
Criminalizing body functions (i.e. going to the bathroom for transgender people) is not okay.
Stripping the powers of the governor (i.e. Republican hissy fit after a Democrat governor is elected) is not okay.
Making it illegal to release police video recordings to the public is not okay.
Criminalizing religious institutions that serve food to the hungry in public space is not okay.
So much is not okay. And Rev. Barber has been there through thick and thin. He has written a book through it all. And I know that he has suffered. He has severe arthritis. There has been physical and emotional fall out.
I was reminded of him this morning because of the Wednesday practice here at BeguineAgain.com that is offered by Jamie Dedes. Jamie recommends his book, The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear. It sounds like Rev. Barber has ideas about how to unite our country and move past and through the politics of division, scapegoating, and separation. I ordered my copy of the book this morning. Maybe it will help with the feeling of doom and dread to read something of hope.
In my meanderings this morning, I also popped over to The BeZine. I read Charles Martin's (@slpmartin) piece, "the poet's prescription." These words caught my fancy [many more will die is the concept leading into these lines]:
We have the wisdom of Rev. Dr. Barber. The words of the poet, Charles Martin. All urging us pass hatred and division towards wisdom and unity. And there are many others who are like voices crying in the wilderness. The question is, how do we get to a good place in a good way? Maybe the poets, the artists, the peacemakers, and Dr. Barber can provide some answers.
How do you imagine moving through separation and scapegoating to unity and healing?
Today's practice brings music from Laura Mvula, a poem from Denice Frohman, and a quote from Gwendolyn Brooks. This is followed by readings from the Jewish and Christian lectionaries, the Qur'an, and the Buddhist tradition. And as always, we have our BIBOLOVE practice from Soyinka Rahim. (BIBO = Breathe In, Breathe Out). Our prayers for this week focus on Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, and Togo.
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--hmmm
Overcome by Laura Mvula
When your heart is broken down
And your head don't reach the sky
Take your broken wings and fly
The Hour Dylan Roof Sat in the Church by Denice Frohman
By now, you know their names, their cheekbones—
the tender hands they offered when you walked in.
You know the quivering strength of prayer and the art of making God listen.
How faith can summon weary backbones into pyramids.
And you know that grace still lives in a church that’s had to rebuild itself before—
a church that’s cleaned more blood off the walls than you have ever fantasized of.
That is to say, you’re not the first white boy to feel
small and create chaos in someone else’s home.
This church is old – much older than you,
wears the audacity of freshly coated white paint
as if to say any ill that smudges
us will be for all to see.
Did you hear the echoes when you walked in? Did you feel the pastor soothe
the trepidatious voices of ghosts burnt and hung in the name of better days?
So they opened their song for you – shared in head nod and bible verse –
not knowing they let in what they spent so much time praying out
tucked away nearly 400 years of lessons on what it means
to let a white man get too close.
All the bullets in all the world belong to them, yet doors softened for you—
what an unearned miracle.
Do you know what it means to welcome a familiar terror and hope it got enough god
on it this time to leave you be? Is there some word greater than “noble”?
Your predecessors hid their faces, threw Molotov cocktails from afar
but your ugly is the kind that gets to know what it's about to kill.
In that hour, were you studying them like elk?
Were you surprised when they prayed for you, even as you preyed on them?
Did they greet you with too many, come on ins?
Did you imagine abandoned prayers?
Did your teeth clench when they said, God forgives you?
Did your jaw tighten when they said, Bless your heart?
Did their soft voices almost provoke
the rage out of you?
Did you wonder how the hell they were still
standing? Why god hadn’t made good on the fire next time?
Did your skin itch when the congregation
said your name like it was worth keeping?
Did you look at their hands? The folds of their skin?
Did you panic then?
Did you forget who the animal was?
Did you leave hoofed, and grunting with a new tail?
Did the gun begin to rattle?
Did the heavy metal fever and sweat?
Did the script get hazy?
Did you forget your lines?
Is that when you almost walked out?
How many crosses did you have to burn
in your head to remember what you came for?
How many names did you have
Did your hands turn black after you threw your gun down? Did the bullets pull themselves
out of their skin, and chase you out? Is that why you ran, boy?
Why you could stay for bible study, but not to see what music god
still offers the dead to keep them warm?
Did you hear your father say, good job son? Did you hear America say, good job son?
Did you hear every history textbook write your name?
Did you wink at the police when they searched your pockets? Did you say, hey, brother?
Did they say, hey, back?
When you realized they were enjoying you, was it then that you shot them all?
Was it then that you could not say you enjoyed them too?
When you see God, will he tell you how bad you smell?
Will you say you already know?
A stench like this isn’t made overnight,
takes a whole lot of hands
and much longer than an hour.
Curated from http://www.splitthisrock.org/poetry-database/poem/the-hour-dylann-roof-sat-in-the-church
The Quarry is a searchable collection of over 300 poems by a diverse array of contemporary socially engaged poets, published by Split This Rock since 2009.
Jewish Daily Reading: Daily Study from Chabad
Christian Daily Reading: Revised Common Lectionary Daily Reading
Muslim Daily Reading: Daily Verse from The Only Quran
Buddhist Daily Reading: Daily Zen
Please bring your own sacred readings to the daily pattern. If there is something else you'd like to see, let me know!
“We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.”
― Gwendolyn Brooks
Weekly prayer focus comes from the World Council of Churches prayer cycle. We know the world needs to be surrounded with prayer and positive thought. This allows us to work through the world country by country. We focus on one set of countries per week with the same prayer, lifting them up.
Focus countries: Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Togo
Let us pray.
We know that we fail to live up to being makers of peace. Let us bring in rather than push out, be invitational rather than confrontational--seeing signs of life while decrying the desecration of hope.
For signs of hope and peace, we pray for
- Faith community workers for their mission endeavors.
- Those who search for ways to provide clean water.
- The education ministry of faith communities.
- Coffee and cacao, palm groves and coconut, yams and peanuts.
- The indigenous woven cloth and work in bronze.
For the oppressed and weary, we pray for
- Peace, unity, and political and economic stability throughout the region.
- Unemployed young people.
- The many people in these countries who live in desperate poverty, and efforts to create better living conditions.
- Healthcare workers who provide medical help and education to those living with HIV and AIDS.
- Children who are trafficked for cheap labor or otherwise exploited.
For those we love, those we hate and those we are indifferent to
For the transformation from ME to WE
Let peace prevail on earth.
So may it be.
Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi
O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.
May Peace Prevail on Earth. Amen. So mote it be.