The thing that hit me this morning was that 125 people were exonerated of their crimes in 2015 in the US. That is 1 person every 3 days. Exonerated. While I think most would find the exonerations a cause for celebration, I find it devastating. It points to a system where results (convictions) are valued higher than truth. The truth is always far more complex than we think it is.
One young person, now 18, that I have worked with was convicted at the age of 14 as an adult for attempted murder of his parents. When he tried to kill his parents, he was so depressed that all he could think of was stopping the pain. For him, his parents represented all the pain that severe depression brought to him. He will be incarcerated until he is 35.
Now, this young man, having been in a juvenile center that does intensive mental health treatment, is an entirely different person. He is calm, a mentor to other incarcerated youth, and he reads Nichols Sparks books "so he can remember what love is like." But he is hopeless. He doesn't see hope in leaving when he is 35 unless some major laws are changed that make his transition to life much easier. Washington has taken a step towards alleviating one of his concerns with the CROP law this year.
Washington has passed a Certificates of Restoration of Opportunity act (CROP). It is just waiting for the Governor's signature. CROP allows people to earn a certificate that shows they have completed all legal judgments against them--time and money owed. This then opens up a large percentage of the 90 certificated careers that are currently off-limits to felons (like hair stylist, tattoo artist, etc.). It is a step in the right direction.
#itstime to embrace forgiveness and mercy within our justice system so citizens returning to us may be restored.
Today's practice is inspired with music from Ani DiFranco, poetry from Charlotte Mew, and sacred wisdom from Confucius along with readings from the Jewish and Christian lectionaries, the Qur'an, and the Bhagavad Gita. The photo is mine.
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBO: Breath In, Breath Out--yum!
Subdivision by Ani DiFranco
I remember the first time I saw someone lying on the cold street
I thought, "I can't just walk past you, this can't just be true"
But I learned by example to just keep moving my feet
It's amazing the things that we all learn to do
From our low seat beside the fire
Where we have dozed and dreamed and watched the glow
Or raked the ashes, stopping so
We scarcely saw the sun or rain
Above, or looked much higher
Than this same quiet red or burned-out fire.
To-night we heard a call,
A rattle on the window-pane,
A voice on the sharp air,
And felt a breath stirring our hair,
A flame within us: Something swift and tall
Swept in and out and that was all.
Was it a bright or a dark angel? Who can know?
It left no mark upon the snow,
But suddenly it snapped the chain
Unbarred, flung wide the door
Which will not shut again;
And so we cannot sit here anymore.
We must arise and go:
The world is cold without
And dark and hedged about
With mystery and enmity and doubt,
But we must go
Though yet we do not know
Who called, or what marks we shall leave upon the snow.
Amsel, Rudolph; Keyne, Teresa (2014-08-02). The Best of Poetry: Thoughts that Breathe and Words that Burn (In Two Hundred Poems) (Kindle Locations 623-631). Elsinore Books. Kindle Edition.
For full, typed-out scripture, follow this link
Jeremiah 7:21-8:3 & 9:22-23
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Qur'an Surah 3.8-17
Bhagavad Gita 3.7-11
Please bring your own sacred readings to the daily pattern. If there is something else you'd like to see, let me know! The readings are from the Jewish Lectionary, the Christian Lectionary, and reading the Qur'an and Bhagavad Gita straight through.
“Attack the evil that is within yourself, rather than attacking the evil that is in others.” ― Confucius
For the oppressed and weary
Especially for #blacklivesmatter and
for the LGBTQIAP community.
For signs of despair and violence,
for the reports that IS is seeking to target Jewish school children
for the justice system's 125 exonerations in 2015 in the US
for the refusal to treat all all people with equity
for US victims of gun violence in the last 72 hours,
258 incidents, 66 killed, 176 injured
For signs of hope and peace,
for the 150 mines removed in Palmyra, Syria
for the election of Htin Kyaw in Myanmar, the first civilian president in 50 years
for France's decision to drop their nationality-stripping plan
for Venezuela's passing of an amnesty bill to release "the opposition" from prison
For China, Honk Kong, and Macau
For those who suffer, are homeless, or are sick
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.
"Amen" means "may it be so."
"May peace prevail on earth." is an addition inspired by Michael Dickel
BIBOLove is an addition attributed to the work of Soyinka Rahim, InterPlay practice, BIBOLove
Jeremiah 7:21-8:3 & 9:22-23
Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures--The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text
21Thus said the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat! 22For when I freed your fathers from the land of Egypt, I did not speak with them or command them concerning burnt offerings or sacrifice. 23But this is what I commanded them: Do My bidding, that I may be your God and you may be My people; walk only in the way that I enjoin upon you, that it may go well with you. 24Yet they did not listen or give ear; they followed their own counsels, the willfulness of their evil hearts. They have gone backward, not forward, 25from the day your fathers left the land of Egypt until today. And though I kept sending all My servants, the prophets, to themd daily and persistently, 26they would not listen to Me or give ear. They stiffened their necks, they acted worse than their fathers.
27You shall say all these things to them, but they will not listen to you; you shall call to them, but they will not respond to you. 28Then say to them: This is the nation that would not obey the LORD their God, that would not accept rebuke. Faithfulness has perished, vanished from their mouths.
29Shear your locks and cast them away,
Take up a lament on the heights,
For the LORD has spurned and cast off
The brood that provoked His wrath.
30For the people of Judah have done what displeases Me—declares the LORD. They have set up their abominations in the House which is called by My name, and they have defiled it. 31And they have built the shrines of Topheth in the Valley of Ben-hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in fire—which I never commanded, which never came to My mind.
32 Assuredly, a time is coming—declares the LORD—when men shall no longer speak of Topheth or the Valley of Ben-hinnom, but of the Valley of Slaughter; and they shall bury in Topheth until no room is left. 33The carcasses of this people shall be food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth, with none to frighten them off. 34And I will silence in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem the sound of mirth and gladness, the voice of bridegroom and bride. For the whole land shall fall to ruin.
8:1 At that time—declares the LORD—the bones of the kings of Judah, of its officers, of the priests, of the prophets, and of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be taken out of their graves 2and exposed to the sun, the moon, and all the host of heaven which they loved and served and followed, to which they turned and bowed down. They shall not be gathered for reburial; they shall become dung upon the face of the earth. 3And death shall be preferable to life for all that are left of this wicked folk, in all the other places to which I shall banish them—declares the LORD of Hosts.
22Thus said the LORD:
Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom;
Let not the strong man glory in his strength;
Let not the rich man glory in his riches.
23But only in this should one glory:
In his earnest devotion to Me.
For I the LORD act with kindness,
Justice, and equity in the world;
For in these I delight
—declares the LORD.
Jewish Publication Society of America (2000-12-01). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures--The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text (p. 784). Jewish Publication Society. Kindle Edition.
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures--The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text
Praise the LORD, for He is good,
His steadfast love is eternal.
2Let Israel declare,
“His steadfast love is eternal.”
14The LORD is my strength and might;
He has become my deliverance.
15The tents of the victorious resound with joyous shouts of
“The right hand of the LORD is triumphant!
16The right hand of the LORD is exalted!
The right hand of the LORD is triumphant!”
17I shall not die but live
and proclaim the works of the LORD.
18The LORD punished me severely,
but did not hand me over to death.
19Open the gates of victory for me
that I may enter them and praise the LORD.
20This is the gateway to the LORD—
the victorious shall enter through it.
21I praise You, for You have answered me,
and have become my deliverance.
22The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our sight.
24This is the day that the LORD has made—
let us exult and rejoice on it.
Jewish Publication Society of America (2000-12-01). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures--The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text (p. 1249). Jewish Publication Society. Kindle Edition.
The Voice version
1After the Sabbath, as the light of the next day, the first day of the week, crept over Palestine, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the tomb to keep vigil. 2Earlier there had been an earthquake. A messenger of the Lord had come down from heaven and had gone to the grave. He rolled away the stone and sat down on top of it. 3He veritably glowed. He was vibrating with light. His clothes were light, white like transfiguration, like fresh snow. 4The soldiers guarding the tomb were terrified. They froze like stone.
5The messenger spoke to the women, to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.
Messenger of the Lord: Don’t be afraid. I know you are here keeping watch for Jesus who was crucified. 6But Jesus is not here. He was raised, just as He said He would be. Come over to the grave, and see for yourself. 7And then go straight to His disciples, and tell them He’s been raised from the dead and has gone on to Galilee. You’ll find Him there. Listen carefully to what I am telling you.
8The women were both terrified and thrilled, and they quickly left the tomb and went to find the disciples and give them this outstandingly good news. 9But while they were on their way, they saw Jesus Himself.
Jesus (greeting the women): Rejoice.
The women fell down before Him, kissing His feet and worshiping Him.
Jesus: 10Don’t be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee. Tell them I will meet them there.
Ecclesia Bible Society (2012-04-09). The Voice Bible, eBook: Step Into the Story of Scripture (p. 1452). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Quran Surah 3.8-17
Quran: A Simple English Translation
8 ‘Our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate after You have guided us. Bestow upon us Your mercy. Surely You are a Munificent Giver.
9 Our Lord, You will surely gather all mankind on the Day of whose coming there is no doubt. God never fails to fulfil His promise.’
10 As for those who deny the truth, their wealth and children will not help them against God. They will be fuel for the Fire.
11 Their end will be like Pharaoh’s people and those before them; they denied Our signs, so God seized them in their sinfulness: God is stern in punishment.
12 Say to those who deny the truth, ‘You shall be overcome and driven into Hell— an evil resting place!’
13 There was a sign for you in the two groups which met face to face [at Badr], one party fighting for the cause of God and the other made up of those who deny the truth. They [unbelievers] saw with their own eyes that the others [believers] were twice their number: but God strengthens with His succour whom He wills. In this, there is indeed a lesson for all who have eyes to see.
14 The satisfaction of worldly desires through women, and children, and heaped-up treasures of gold and silver, and pedigreed horses, and cattle and lands is attractive to people. All this is the provision of the worldly life; but the most excellent abode is with God.
15 Say, ‘Shall I tell you of something better than all of these? For the God-fearing, there are Gardens in nearness to their God with rivers flowing through them where they shall live forever with pure spouses and the goodwill of God. God is watching His servants— 16 those who say, “Lord, we believe in You, forgive us our sins and keep us from the punishment of the Fire,” 17 those who are steadfast, truthful, obedient, and those who spend [for God’s cause] and who pray before dawn for forgiveness.'
Khan, Maulana Wahiduddin; Goodword (2013-12-11). Quran: A Simple English Translation (Goodword ! Koran) (Kindle Locations 871-878). Goodword Books. Kindle Edition.
Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation 3.7-11
The superior man is he
whose mind can control his senses;
with no attachment to results,
he engages in the yoga of action.
Do any actions you must do,
since action is better than inaction;
even the existence of your body
depends on necessary actions.
The whole world becomes
a slave to its own activity, Arjuna;
if you want to be truly free,
perform all actions as worship.
The Lord of Creatures formed worship
together with mankind, and said:
“By worship you will always be fruitful
and your wishes will be fulfilled.
“By worship you will nourish the gods
and the gods will nourish you in turn;
by nourishing one another
you assure the well-being of all.
Mitchell, Stephen (2007-12-18). Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation (Kindle Locations 489-494). Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. Kindle Edition.