Collective Liberation · Lament

Psalm 46 for Orlando

Psalm 46 for Orlando
(offered at a memorial vigil in Denver, CO 6/18/16)

When the morning dawned
We awoke to devastation
49 beautiful black and brown LGBTQIA beloveds slaughtered
And we awoke to grief
Filling up our newsfeeds
Filling up our hearts and minds and bodies
When the morning dawned.

When the morning dawned
The pulse of pain
The pulse of fear
The pulse of outcry
Beat in our own blood
Is there no safe place for us?
Is there no safe place for us?
Is God in the midst of the city…or not?
A trembling question in our tumultuous hearts
When the morning dawned.

When the morning dawned
49 beautiful black and brown souls were gone
The earth of our lives had changed
Our mountainous hearts were shaking
When the morning dawned
Orlando in uproar
Denver in uproar
Cities everywhere in uproar
Is God in the midst of the city…or not?

When the morning dawns
Our newsfeeds fill up
With expressions of love and solidarity
With the lifting up of all the beautiful names
When the morning dawns
Our inboxes and our voicemails and our texts
Fill up with messages of love and solidarity
Our calendars fill up with vigil after vigil
Our hands fill up with candle after candle
When the morning dawns.

And yes, when the morning dawns
There is silence from surprising places
And hateful words from not surprising places
Adding anguish to anguish

And yet when the morning dawns
God is in the midst of the city
And God will help the city
When the morning dawns.
Because there is a river.
There is a river that makes God’s city glad.
There is a river, Dr. Vincent Harding says,
That “is at its heart a profoundly human quest for transformation,
A constantly evolving movement toward personal integrity,
Toward new social structures filled with justice, equity, and compassion.”

There is a river that will make us all free,
If we only have the courage to wade in,
To get our feet wet,
To swim together,
And the source of that river
Is what we find in this Psalm,
The source, the beginning,
God’s plea with us
To Be. Still.

Be still, God says, and what God means
Is to disarm, to surrender —
Stop it, God pleads, be still,
The last thing I want, God cries,
Is your weaponry of war.
I will smash your weapons, God claims,
Be still, let your hands drop from fighting,
Drop your war weapons
And we know,
We know,
It’s not just AR-15s and Glocks,
Not just weapons of steel
But also the weapons of fear.

God’s power as refuge is known in the midst of the city
When war’s weaponry is destroyed in our own hearts,
When we refuse to let our grief become a weapon for hate
When we reach out to each other in our pain
When we are allies to each other in our grief
When we join together with each other in solidarity

When we wade into the river of life
And join our whole selves to the freedom struggle,
Mourning our grief whole-heartedly, yes,
Feeling all our anger whole-heartedly, yes,
And rooting out of these same hearts
racism, homophobia,
transphobia, sexism, Islamophobia —
Whatever your fear,
Be still, drop your war weapons,
Wade into the gladdening river of struggle,
Then our eyes are opened to God’s power, God’s help
in the city, for God is our refuge,
not the weapons of war
God is our refuge,
not the weapons of systemic and systematic oppression —
God is our refuge,
And the Divine Beloved desires only,
Only our flourishing.

What would it mean to live, Adrienne Rich asks,
“What would it mean to live
In a city whose people were changing
Each other’s despair into hope? –
You yourself must change it. –
What would it feel like to know
your country was changing? –
You yourself must change it. –
Though your life felt arduous
New and unmapped and strange
What would it mean to stand on the first
Page of the end of despair?”

When the morning dawns, beloveds,
Be still also means, just be still.
Be what you need to be.
Remember how much you are loved.
Remember our worth comes
From the fact of our existence,
Not our assigned place in systemic injustice.

When the morning dawns, beloveds,
Before you wade in deeper, be still.
Let the cool water of the gladdening river
Wash over your feet for a spell,
Soothing your tired ache,
Easing your troubled mind.

When the morning dawns, beloveds,
Be of good courage.
Remember
God is in the midst of the city
In each one of us
And all we do for the flourishing of creation.

Amen.

 

Cited:
There is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America, Dr. Vincent Harding, 1993.

“Dreams Before Waking,” from Your Native Land, Your Life, Adrienne Rich, 1986.

Featured image photo via the AP.

 

 

 

 

 

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