Three things are heavy on my heart this week: The state of our nation, the movie Just Mercy, and the tragic death of a kind young man. All three things point to the strength and fragility of humanity as we suffer under the weight of being human.
Our nation is in a historically significant moment, but it isn’t Wednesday’s vote that pulls at my attention, it is rather the heart-breaking divide between U.S. citizens. We have come to a place where we too often place blame on them. “They have divided our nation”, I hear leaders say on the radio, and I do not know which side is speaking, because the divisive rhetoric comes from everywhere. This week, I am praying for unity.
In the summer of 2018, Nancy invited us to all read Brian Stevenson’s Book, Just Mercy, which many of us did. This Sunday night I went to see the movie version. I wept in that theater. I wept at our divided and dehumanizing ways and our ability to do harm to one another. It was a heart-wrenching and incredibly important film. The wounded humanity of each individual was portrayed with such power and truth that it was sometimes hard to bear, and yet I felt called to stay in my seat and bear witness. This week I pray for the strength to bear witness.
As a community many of you have been bearing witness to immense loss this week. This Tuesday I learned of the death of a young man named Chase here in Concord last week. I hear he was a gentle and loving soul. The shock and grief of loss are unbearable when a young person dies like this. This week I pray for Chase, his family, and all who are seeped in this terrible loss.
In concentric circles of human life, we suffer and we grieve: personally, communally, systematically, nationally, globally. It is a weight to bear, and it is sometimes too much. I don’t know how to do it without the accompaniment of Jesus Christ. Some days, it is clear that we cannot breathe without the breath of God. Most days I know it is the Holy Spirit lived out in community that brings the strength needed to meet the day, the news, the tragedies.
On Wednesday, Susan Hagner brought us the gift of icons, a prayer practice in which a carefully written image provides a doorway to the heavens, a focal point for our prayers, and a visual vocabulary for the invisible God who we long to encounter. As I left church Wednesday night with my children, they made me stop to look up at a surprisingly iconic-like halo around the bright moon (see the picture).
An awareness of God’s presence, made visible in the icon of the sky, flooded me. The heaviness of my heart lifted enough to transform into purpose, and I headed home grateful for all that is; grateful for the light within, the light above, the light of love that fuels grief, the light of those who labor for unity, the light of those who labor for justice and mercy, the light of this church, the light of my children, and the light in each of you.
Yours in Christ,