Yesterday, I had what I would uncategorically classify as a good day. I felt uplifted, peaceful, and secure at the end of my work. And I came home to chicken parmesan (of the gluten free variety) cooked by my dear partner, Robert. I have been reflecting on what made it a good day. It boiled down to community.
I met with one of the youth from our Sunday worship service who had pretty profound questions about the nature of prayer and God and community. We were able to talk. In our talk, we talked about the other youth in detention. Their parents that come visit them and such. She said, "I don't have anybody." Later, as we talked about what she is facing (it's serious), she said, "But I face this myself." I thought, "That is a damned lie." Nobody has to face things alone. She may have to process the changes she makes alone, but community can and better well step up and walk with this young woman. She does not have to go to court alone and she does not have to sit by and not receive letters. No. We can do something.
I told her that I would definitely stop by and see her once weekly and that I'd find some folks that will show up for her. I posted that on Facebook, and folks are stepping up to writing letters and such. Let me know if you would also like to lift this young woman's spirits.
After we left, I went up to the administrative part of detention. Inside my head I was trying to calculate how long this young woman had been in juvie. It seemed like for-freaking-ever. I found out it was something like 465 days. 465 days for a teenage girl to be held for trial. She is being tried as an adult. She is now 17. The average stay at detention is something like 8 days. There are no programs designed to handle a 465 day stay. Mentoring is a three month or so program. Other programs repeat every two months. This just sucks for her. Her name is Maryanne. Her name is in the news and you can find everything on the internet about her since she is being charged as an adult. So much for the newspapers commitment to not releasing youth's names.
Side bar: Washington state law does not forbid releasing youth names. There is a standing convention that newspapers won't release youth names, especially prior to adjudication. They lie. But when we try to change the law, they come out in full force with promises and commitments to not release the names.
The good news is that people will start gathering around Maryanne. I suppose this falls into the category of doing mercy.
After meeting with Maryanne, I met with a soon-to-be new volunteer. He is from an ex-Mars Hill church community. I get really nervous when I meet these folks. But he stuck with me through talking about inequity, feminism, and LGBTQ inclusion. So! We will give it a try. His hope is to lead a worship service or two. I have put them on trial and they will lead worship in November.
I am always happy to find good volunteers. And I have a feeling this will be very good! I suppose this falls into the category of, heck, I don't know. Maybe listening deeply.
Last, I kept a Peacemaking Circle last night that was the first in a series to help one of our church communities confront their own biases. They are throwing words around at each other like racist and such. Now, we really are all racist because we swim in the soup of white supremacy that has been well established here in the United States. Even if we are not white, there are degrees of internalized racism.
We did two things in our circle last night. Ack, no, three things. We checked in, we set guidelines, and we talked about our ideas of what racism is and if we have ever seen a racist incident. I thought it was going to be a tussle when during the guideline setting (what do you need as a rule to feel you can have a safe conversation) a gentleman wanted to go into his story of why he wasn't racist and didn't appreciate the talk of racism and he likes everyone and so on. I kept redirecting him back to guideline creation and finally got a guideline out of him. What he offered was, "My voice should not be the loudest voice." That is actually pretty darn good! But, for him, an elderly, white male, this talk of racism was too much. So he left.
But his wife stayed.
And in the end, the evening, though long, was fruitful.
I suppose this falls into the category of both listening deeply and justice seeking.
I think I would also go back to Maryanne's and also offer listening deeply. I think that I see a pattern. For me, satisfaction comes when I listen deeply and use my power to help those that I am listening to. Perhaps that all boils down to being deeply present.
I hope that I can find a bit of that today.
Where will you find your bliss today?
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--shhhh
Breath prayer (repeat as many times as possible):
(inhale) Listening Spirit,
(exhale) Hear my cry.
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, please share!
“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”
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. I encourage you to fill this in however you see it.
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.
This week we pray for the countries of Ghana and Nigeria.
For signs of hope and peace, we pray for
the mercy workers caring for those in the Houston, Caribbean Islands, Puerto Rico, and Florida
the warriors fighting fires that seem to be unending in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Montana, and Arizona
the peacemakers relentlessly working on becoming themselves
For the oppressed and weary, we pray for
those seeking food and shelter
those who have been harmed by violence, especially our transgender siblings
those who suffer in systems of domination
For those we love, those we hate and those we are indifferent to, we pray.
For the transformation from ME to WE, we pray.
Let peace prevail on earth.
So mote 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.