Last night I dreamt of squeezing in to tight spaces, fording a rushing river, teetering on the edge of a cliff, and hiding from a band of marauders. As anxiety dreams go, it was a collection of my greatest hits. It has been that kind of week for me.
I am not saying these things to be dramatic. I am just trying my best to be honest.
This week has been like drinking the bitter concentrate of the last year. Each day is like picking a scab that has not yet healed—each day of executive orders and mandates along with the accompanying commentary transports me to places, both real and imagined, where the anger, disappointment, and dislocation is new again.
I am saying this to be honest, because this is where I am. More importantly, I am coming to believe that it is only in my honesty that I can be made whole.
This wholeness should not defined as healed or complete. Rather this wholeness is known by our ability to contend with the full range of human life, both in ourselves and as a community.
If this year has revealed anything, it must be our profound lack of empathy to the things we cannot see.
The ancient tradition of lament was to claim the humanity in suffering. To lament was to demand that grief be seen. And in the seeing, we see that we are not alone.
In my moments of greatest despair, the practice of lament has softened my heart and lifted my eyes beyond my own sense of loss to recognize the suffering of others.
In my anger, my sadness, and in my unbelief, I am praying for a new way to see.
In our anger towards the building of The Wall, let us remember our brothers and sisters who are confined by the walls of mental illness, economic exploitation, and the prison industrial complex.
In our incredulity towards the callousness of the nominee for Department of Education, let us remember the impossible path towards higher education in many communities due to closing schools, inequitable distribution of resources, unsupported special needs, and the challenge of navigating the admissions and financial aid process.
In our outrage at the continued exploitation of our environment for the sake of corporate profits, let us grieve a system that unflinchingly chooses immediate economic gain over sustainable stewardship and the treatment of God’s creation as a commodity.
In our sense of loneliness and abandonment from people we dearly love due to the political climate, let us remember the millions of families separated because of economy, deportation, incarceration, and war.
In our feelings of utter helplessness, let us remember the most vulnerable among us—the trafficked, the undocumented, the unborn.
In our fatigue, let us feel the weariness of a centuries long struggle.
In all the ways that the pain, confusion, fear, and uncertainty seems impossible to carry, let us we honor those who have carried it long before it was our turn.
And in our angst towards the future, let our troubled hearts deepen our empathy and strengthen our resolve to fight for the dignity of our brothers and sisters, just as we fight for our own.
There have been two resources that have been very helpful in shaping my thoughts for this post.
Soon-Chan Rah’s Prophetic Lament is an exploration on the spiritual practice of lament as seen through the Biblical book of Lamentations.
Ronald Takaki’s A Different Mirror is a remarkable ethnic history of the United States that demonstrates, among other things, the economy as a primary force in shaping the experiences of ethnic minorities in American history.
You can find summaries for both on the Resources page.