Meditations on blindness and sight, perception and awareness: songs, prayers, poems and brief commentary on themes that rise up in John 9

I think we all suffer from acute blindness at times. Life is a constant journey of trying to open your eyes. I’m just beginning my journey, and my eyes aren’t fully open yet. — Olivia Thirlby

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind … — William Shakespeare

I have looked into your eyes with my eyes. I have put my heart near your heart. — Pope John XXIII
Songs about ‘Blindness’:
Blind Leading the Blind by Mumford & Sons (rock)
Blind Fools by Megan Davies & Curtis Peoples (country)
I Am Free by Newsboys (Christian rock)
I Go Blind by Hootie & The Blowfish (rock)
I Wish I Were Blind by Bruce Springsteen (rock)
Seeing Blind by Niall Horan & Maren Morris (country)
Sky Blue by Peter Gabriel with Blind Boys of Alabama (ballad/gospel)
Blind Boy by Musical Youth (pop)
Loving Blind by Clint Smith (country)
Love Is Blind by David Coverdale/Whitesnake (rock)
Lord You’ve Been Good To Me by 5 Blind Boys (gospel)
He Saw It All by the Booth Brothers (Christian country)
If You Me To by Ginny Owens (Christian)
Live Music with Blind Boys of Alabama (gospel)
Blind Man by Aerosmith (rock)
Blind Love by Tom Waits (country)
You’re Blind by Run/DMC (rock/rap)
Blind by Dababy (rap – includes explicit lyrics/some cursing)

Songs about Sight & Seeing: My Father’s Eyes by Eric Clapton (rock)
Have You Ever Seen the Rain? by Creedance Clearwater Revival (country/rock)
Doctor My Eyes by Jackson Browne (rock)
Look at Me by Sarah Vaughan (jazz/blues)
I Only Have Eyes for You by The Flamingos (rock/soul)
The Light In Your Eyes by LeAnn Rimes (country)
When I Look at the World by U2
I Look to You by Whitney Houston (rock)
The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra (jazz/big band)
Eyes Open by Taylor Swift (pop)
Close Your Eyes by Meghan Trainor (country)
Fresh Eyes by Andy Grammer (pop)
In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel (rock ballad)
Don’t Close Your Eyes cover by Tim McGraw
In Another’s Eyes by Trisha Yearwood & Garth Brooks (country)
In My Daughter’s Eyes by Martina McBride
Sue Looks Good to Me by Alicia Keys (pop)
Look It Here by Public Enemy (rap)
Look Me In the Heart by Tina Turner (rock)
Look at Me Now by Kirk Franklin (rock/rap/gospel)
Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You by Frankie Valli (rock)
Close Your Eyes by Peaches & Herb & again Close Your Eyes The Five Keys (soul/rock)
Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler (rock ballad)
When I Look in Your Eyes by Firehouse (rock)
Close Your Eyes by Michael Buble (pop)
Close My Eyes Forever by Ozzy Osbourne & Lita Ford (rock ballad)
Take a Look at Me Now (Against All Odds) by Phil Collins (pop ballad)
Angel Eyes by the Jeff Healey Band (rock)
My Eyes Have Seen You and I Looked at You by The Doors (rock)
Sight for Sore Eyes by Aerosmith (rock)
Look at Me Now by Charlies Puth (pop)
Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish
The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson (pop ballad)
The Eyes of a Woman by Journey (rock)

PRAYER by Richard Rohr
God of all Light and Truth, just make sure that I am not a blind man or woman.
Keep me humble and honest, and that will be more than enough work for you.

PRAYER by Nadia Bolz-Weber
God of desert prophets and unlikely messiahs, humble us.
Show us that there is more to see than what we look for.
More possibility. More love. More forgiveness …
Restore our sight so that we may see you in each other.

PRAYER by St Augustine
Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new.
Late have I loved you. You have called to me, and have called out,
and have shattered my deafness. You have blazed forth with light and
have put my blindness to flight! You have sent forth fragrance,
and I have drawn in my breath, and I pant after you.
I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst after you.
You have touched me, and I have burned for your peace.

At the End of the Day: A Mirror of Questions — John O’Donohue
What dreams did I create last night?
Where did my eyes linger today?
Where was I blind?
Where was I hurt without anyone noticing?
What did I learn today?
What did I read?
What new thoughts visited me?
What differences did I notice in those closest to me?
Whom did I neglect?
Where did I neglect myself?
What did I begin today that might endure?
How were my conversations?
What did I do today for the poor and the excluded?
Did I remember the dead today?
When could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?
Where did I allow myself to receive love?
With whom today did I feel most myself?
What reached me today? How did it imprint?
Who saw me today?
What visitations hd I from the past and from the future?
What did I avoid today?
From the evidence – why was I given this day?

RICHARD ROHR COMMENTARY   (from Center for Action & Contemplation)
Finally, the great theater-piece Gospel is about a man born blind. … We can only touch upon the surface here, but enough to point you beneath the surface, I hope. Let me list in quick succession the major themes so you cannot miss them: 

  • The “man born blind” is the archetype for all of us at the beginning of life’s journey.
  • The moral blame game as to why or who caused human suffering is a waste of time.
  • The man does not even ask to be healed. It is just offered and given.
  • Religious authorities are often more concerned about control and correct theology than actually healing people. They are presented as narrow and unloving people throughout the story.
  • Many people have their spiritual conclusions before the facts in front of them. He is a predefined “sinner” and has no credibility for them.
  • Belief in and love of Jesus come after the fact, subsequent to the healing. Perfect faith or motivation is not always a prerequisite for God’s action. Sometimes God does things for God’s own purposes.
  • Spirituality is about seeing. Sin is about blindness, or as Saint Gregory of Nyssa will say, “Sin is always a refusal to grow.”
  • The one who knows little, learns much (what we call “beginner’s mind”) and those who have all their answers already, learn nothing.

Doing as others told me, I was Blind.
Coming when others called me, I was Lost.
Then I left everyone, myself as well.
Then I found Everyone, Myself as well.
― Rumi

COMMENTARY on the STORY of the BLIND MAN

… Of the two choices, Jesus picked a third, unbinding sin from the body, deformity from purity.  Before sight was restored, God’s presence was invoked in this marginal space, this “inappropriate” body.  God’s presence was invoked within the blind man – within the “imperfect”, within the “other”.  And when his eyes were opened, God’s light came pouring out from this man, casting into stark relief the social and religious ideas that had kept him out for so long. — Eliza (UCC minister see full posting on her blog)

Jesus doesn’t ask the blind guy when he heals him what he’ll be looking at for the rest of his life. — Anne Lamott

It will make a weak man mighty. it will make a mighty man fall. It will fill your heart and hands or leave you with nothing at all. It’s the eyes for the blind and legs for the lame. It is the love for hate and pride for shame. That’s the power of the gospel. — Ben Harper

It was here in the midst of my own community of underside dwellers that I couldn’t help but begin to see the Gospel, the life-changing reality that God is not far off, but here among the brokenness of our lives. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

ON SEEING & BLINDNESS as STATES of SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION

It’s not like ‘I once was blind, and now can see’: it’s more like, ‘I once was blind and now I have really bad vision’. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Optimism does not mean being blind to the actual reality of a situation. It means maintaining a positive spirit to continue to seek a solution to any given problem. And it means recognizing that any given situation has many different aspects—positive as well as problematic. — Dalai Lama

We are only as blind as we want to be. ― Maya Angelou

Spirituality doesn’t mean a blind belief in a spiritual teaching. Spirituality is a practice that brings relief, communication, and transformation. Everyone needs a spiritual dimension in life. Without a spiritual dimension, it’s very challenging to be with the daily difficulties we all encounter. With a spiritual practice, you’re no longer afraid. Along with your physical body, you have a spiritual body. The practices of breathing, walking, concentration, and understanding can help you greatly in dealing with your emotions, in listening to and embracing your suffering, and in helping you to recognize and embrace the suffering of another person. If we have this capacity, then we can develop a real and lasting spiritual intimacy with ourselves and with others. ― Thich Nhat Hanh

Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked. — Ralph Ellison

Blindness is an unfortunate handicap but true vision does not require the eyes. — Helen Keller

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. — Mark Twain

Our very eyes, Are sometimes, like our judgments, blind. — William Shakespeare

There are not sacred and profane things, places, and moments. There are only sacred and desecrated things, places, and moments-and it is we alone who desecrate them by our blindness and lack of reverence. It is one sacred universe, and we are all a part of it. — Richard Rohr

Man’s basic vice, the source of all his evils, is the act of unfocusing his mind, the suspension of his consciousness, which is not blindness, but the refusal to see, not ignorance, but the refusal to know. — Ayn Rand

An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

NOBEL SPEECH (excerpt from FULL LECTURE) by Toni Morrison
“Once upon a time there was an old woman. Blind but wise.” Or was it an old man? A guru, perhaps. Or a griot soothing restless children. I have heard this story, or one exactly like it, in the lore of several cultures. “Once upon a time there was an old woman. Blind. Wise.”
      In the version I know the woman is the daughter of slaves, black, American, and lives alone in a small house outside of town. Her reputation for wisdom is without peer and without question. Among her people she is both the law and its transgression. The honor she is paid and the awe in which she is held reach beyond her neighborhood to places far away; to the city where the intelligence of rural prophets is the source of much amusement.
     One day the woman is visited by some young people who seem to be bent on disproving her clairvoyance and showing her up for the fraud they believe she is. Their plan is simple: they enter her house and ask the one question the answer to which rides solely on her difference from them, a difference they regard as a profound disability: her blindness. They stand before her, and one of them says, “Old woman, I hold in my hand a bird. Tell me whether it is living or dead.”
     She does not answer, and the question is repeated. “Is the bird I am holding living or dead?”
Still she doesn’t answer. She is blind and cannot see her visitors, let alone what is in their hands. She does not know their color, gender or homeland. She only knows their motive.
     The old woman’s silence is so long, the young people have trouble holding their laughter.
     Finally she speaks and her voice is soft but stern. “I don’t know”, she says. “I don’t know whether the bird you are holding is dead or alive, but what I do know is that it is in your hands. It is in your hands.”
     Her answer can be taken to mean: if it is dead, you have either found it that way or you have killed it. If it is alive, you can still kill it. Whether it is to stay alive, it is your decision. Whatever the case, it is your responsibility.
     For parading their power and her helplessness, the young visitors are reprimanded, told they are responsible not only for the act of mockery but also for the small bundle of life sacrificed to achieve its aims. The blind woman shifts attention away from assertions of power to the instrument through which that power is exercised…

I look at the worldLangston Hughes

I look at the world
From awakening eyes in a black face—
And this is what I see:
This fenced-off narrow space   
Assigned to me.
 
I look then at the silly walls
Through dark eyes in a dark face—
And this is what I know:
That all these walls oppression builds
Will have to go!
 
I look at my own body   
With eyes no longer blind—
And I see that my own hands can make
The world that’s in my mind.
Then let us hurry, comrades,
The road to find.

Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent — John Milton

When I consider
how my light is spent,
Ere half my days,
in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent
which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless,
though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker,
and present
My true account,
lest he returning chide;
‘Doth God exact day-labour,
light denied?’
I fondly ask.
But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies,
‘God doth not need
Either man’s work
or his own gifts;
who best
Bear his mild yoke,
they serve him best.
His state
Is Kingly.
Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and
Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only
stand and wait.’

Advent Daily Devotional: Day 11

Wed, Dec 9 – DAY 11

Peace may require healing, too. It could involve addressing internal hurts and histories. What do you need to reclaim your whole and holy self? To make your own wellbeing a priority, as you would another’s? 

Healing may also be a bodily experience. Perhaps you live with a condition, craving, disease, diagnosis, wound or other circumstance that has changed your connection to your own physical being? Peace may come with caring for your body’s needs. Peace also evolves by accepting changes that have occurred for your flesh-and-bones self, then learning how to live as fully as possible, adapting to the reality of changed abilities or health-related scenarios. Peace may require re-framing how you understand your wellbeing.

Or perhaps healing happens by addressing strained and broken relationships. Rebuilding sustainable and healthy relationships may occur with sufficient time and attention. Connections that you want to rekindle may involve resumed contact and rebuilt bridges. Cherished bonds deserve communication and presence. Also in your life, some relationships must be re-evaluated. Perhaps you know of people with whom you need to establish healthier boundaries, clarity of roles, or complete closure.

What parts of your life might become peaceful through healing, with tender and compassionate attention? — Rev Gail

Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them. — Isaiah 57:19

You will find peace not by trying to escape your problems, but by confronting them courageously. —J. Donald Walters

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. — Dalai Lama

Happiness in relationships thrives when it involves people that already feel whole, secure and happy. These people do not depend on a relationship to give them anything. All of their relationships then reflect the wholeness of what they are. — Adam Oakley

Local RACIAL JUSTICE RESPONSES and in-depth RESOURCES

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. — James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Addressing events surrounding the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and resultant nationwide/global protests and demonstrations. Acknowledging the need for racial justice initiatives in our own hometowns as well as regionally and nationally.

Immediate Responses: RACIAL JUSTICE

  • Courageous Conversations: Racial Justice – 6-week dialogue series to be co-facilitated by Jackson Community Church and Jackson Public Library via Zoom on Wednesdays (June 17-July 22). Morning and afternoon sessions will be offered. RSVP to jcchurch@jacksoncommunitychurch.org if you’re interested in participating in the morning or afternoon sessions. We will share links as plans progress.
  • Additional programming is under consideration with the support of local advocates, the library, the church and other organizations. We will keep you posted.
  • Local organizers and educators:
    • NH Listens: Carsey School of Public Policy
    • World Fellowship Center also organizes and educates in the valley. More info.
    • Reading lists available through local librayr coop: In an effort to provide further materials, the coop libraries (Jackson, Cook, Madison and Conway) have shared lists for adults, teens and children within our joint KOHA catalog on books across our collections on race, racism and anti-racism.  There is also a list pertaining specifically to children’s books at the Jackson Library on these vital topics.  Numerous online resources are also available.   Dr. Nicole A. Cooke, the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair at the University of South Carolina, has created a list of Anti-Racism Resources for all ages and the National Museum of African American History & Culture has a page called Talking About Race.  While our statewide inter-library loan system remains on hold, if there are other books or informational resources you are looking for, we would like to hear from you so that we can best provide you with the materials you need. You can email us at staff@jacksonlibrary.org, send us a chat, or leave a voice message at 603-383-9731.

NH JUNETEENTH EVENTS: Facebook Page (all events collated at this site)

Become more informed about yourself:

Dive deep through other available resources. Some recommendations on different topics.

Starting-point to talk about race:


The NH Council of Churches has written letters and recommended next steps regarding racial justice responses to deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery,. See below.

The NH UCC offers this Theological Roundtable on Racial Justicehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iczYc42Y1Rw&feature=youtu.be. 

  • This video features reflections shared by The Rev. Gordon Rankin, Conference Minister, New Hampshire Conference, United Church of Christ (NHCUCC); and members of the NHCUCC Racial Justice Mission Group, Kira Morehouse, Member and Delegate, Brookside Congregational Church U.C.C., Manchester; Rev. John Gregory-Davis, Co-pastor, Meriden Congregational Church; Rev. Renee’ Rouse, Pastor, Northwood Congregational Church; Harriet Ward, Member, Pilgrim United Church of Christ, Brentwood-Kingston; and Rev. Dr. Dawn Berry, Member, First Congregational Church, UCC, Hopkinton, and Chair, Racial Justice Mission Group.

Recommended reading: Collected lists for different ages

  • NY Times: These Books Can Help You Explain Racism and Protest to Your Kids
  • USA TodayBooks to Learn More About Anti-Racism
  • Embrace Race: 31 Books for Children about Race, Racism, and Resistance
  • Most lists will include these and many other books to get you started:
    • Fiction: The Hate U Giveby Angie Thomas
    • Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
    • How to Be an Antiracistby Ibram X. Kendi
    • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
    • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
    • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
    • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Learning about the social construct of ‘whiteness’ & race:

  • Scene On Radio presents Seeing White. A series on the history of whiteness as social construct in America.
  • People Talk about White Fragility with Dr. Robin DeAngelo (from White Fragility: Why Its Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
  • Watch PBS Frontline episodeA Class Divided about Jane Elliot’s 3rd-grade class in Iowa, and the exercise she used to teach them about prejudice, discrimination and implicit bias, by segregating blue-eyed and brown-eyed children.

History and experience of race in America:

Justice System, Policing, and Mass Incarceration:

Activism & Being an Ally:

Movies:

  • Netflix: 13th directed by Ava DuVernay offers documentary summarizing events and experiences since the 13th amendment was passed
  • Amazon Prime: I Am Not Your Negro features links between Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements through the work and words of James Baldwin, featuring the lives of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, and Medgar Evers
  • Disney: Zootopia by addresses racism and prejudice through animated animal narrative. Discussion guide to go with this film.
  • The Hate U Give on Hulu based on the book by Angie Thomas is about a black woman’s struggle to speak out when she witnesses the death of an unarmed friend killed by local police. Book discussion guide.

Churches and faith community resources:

Public policy bodies that are exploring and shaping equity initiatives and conversations in New Hampshire:

Other Organizations.
This list provided through a Jackson resident who is active on racial justice advocacy groups. “I invite you to join me in standing in solidarity with others who are organizing across the USA and the world for racial and social justice …”

  • NH UCC Racial Justice Mission Team: website. Sign up for their emails with recommendations on programming and engagement. The Purpose of the Racial Justice Mission Group is to awaken the NH Conference to issues of racial justice and equality within our churches, state, and country. We are called to be: LEARNERS in a community of mutual accountability studying the impact white privilege and the history of slavery has on racism; INTERRUPTERS of the continued cycle of racism; and  ALLIES with People of Color in challenging race-based injustice in the areas of criminal justice, environmental degradation, economic deprivation, and exclusion from full participation in our communities of faith.
  • White Mountain Action Network is organizing awareness and activism events. You can find them on Facebook or request to be added to their mailing list via white.mtn.action.network@gmail.com.
  • Black Lives Matter / North Conway Edition: See Facebook for organizer / contact info.
  • Poor People’s Campaign: Facebook | Website
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People / NAACP
  • Black Lives Matter: Seeks to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes by combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy.”
  • Girls for a Change: Supports Black girls and other girls of color and inspires them to visualize their bright futures and potential through discovery, development, and social change innovation in their communities.
  • Sistersong: Strengthens and amplifies the collective voices of indigenous women and women of color to achieve reproductive justice by eradicating reproductive oppression and securing human rights.
  • The Essie Justice Group: Nonprofit organization of women with incarcerated loved ones taking on the rampant injustices created by mass incarceration.
  • Higher Heights: Building a national infrastructure to harness Black women’s political power and leadership potential.

HOLY WEEK with JCC: April 8-12 (Easter)

Do you need support of any kind? We have volunteers ready to assist with errands, access to emergency supplies, and Rev Gail is available for emotional and spiritual companionship. Email the church:  jcchurch@jacksoncommunitychurch.org.

Wed, April 8

Thurs, April 9

  • MAUNDY THURSDAY GATHERING (via ZOOM)
    7pm • ZOOM LINK: zoom.us/j/467763000 (password required).
    Plan to celebrate an after-dinner ritual of washing hands (symbolic of foot-washing), stripping altar, and putting out candles as darkness falls and we enter the Triduum: three holy days of Easter weekend. Option: call in via touch-tone phone: 929.436.2866, meeting ID: 467763000 (password required – contact: jcchurch@jacksoncommunitychurch.org)).

Fri, April 10

  • BREAKFAST with REV GAIL (via ZOOM)
    8am •  ZOOM LINK: zoom.us/j/170985789 (password required)
    Social gathering. Option: Call in via touch-tone phone: 929.436.2866, meeting ID: 170985789 (password required – contact jcchurch@jacksoncommunitychurch.org)
  • WAY of the CROSS
    Live-streaming via  Facebook.com/JacksonCommunityChurchJCC website
    Virtual contemplative journey through stations of the cross. Share where you would direct your prayers for each station of the cross, Rev Gail will post reflections at different Jackson and Bartlett locations to symbolize each station of the cross. This will take place throughout the week, but we especially welcome your comments during the hours of Christ’s crucifixion and death. We will use Marcia McFee / Design Worship Studio materials to focus. 
  • LAST SEVEN WORDS Holy Friday Event (via ZOOM)
    5pm • ZOOM LINK: zoom.us/j/531729008) (password required)
    Reflect on the events of Holy Friday through the last seven words of Christ. Option: Call in via touch-tone phone: 929.436.2866, meeting ID: 531729008 (password required – contact: jcchurch@jacksoncommunitychurch.org)

EASTER SUNDAY, April 12

  • CHOIR PRACTICE (via ZOOM)
    9:15am • ZOOM LINK: zoom.us/j/142985761 (password required)
    Choir practice with choir director Billy Carleton and music director Alan Labrie. Option: Call on touch-tone phone: 929.436.2866, meeting ID# 142985761 (password required – contact: jcchurch@jacksoncommunitychurch.org)
  • VIRTUAL EASTER SERVICE (via ZOOM)
    10:30am • ZOOM LINK: zoom.us/j/142985761 (password required)
    Join us for worship, special music including flute duet by Lauren Weeder & Jeanette Heidmann, choral performance by JCC’s choir & harp with Dominique Dodge, plus prayer, reflection and interactive transformation of the cross with butterflies on this special Easter Sunday! Service will also be live-streamed to website and Facebook, and afterward, recordings of service will be posted to FB, youtube, vimeo. Option: Call on touch-tone phone: 929.436.2866, meeting ID# 142985761. (password required – contact: jcchurch@jacksoncommunitychurch.org)
  • BUTTERFLY the CROSS
    All Day • Jackson Community Church (outside)
    All day on Easter Sunday, you may add a butterfly to the cross, which will stand outside the church (weather permitting), or take one home, if you need an Easter symbol. If you can’t be here, send us your prayers and we’ll add your butterfly for you.

Reflections on injustice & healing: themes from Jeremiah

Balm in Gilead — Grace Schulman
“Is there no balm in Gilead?”
So cries dour Jeremiah in granite tones.
“There is a balm in Gilead,”
replies a Negro spiritual. The baritone  

who chants it, leaning forward on the platform,
looks up, not knowing his voice is a rainstorm
that rinses air to reveal earth’s surprises.
Today, the summer gone, four monarch butterflies,  

their breed’s survivors, sucked a flower’s last blooms,
opened their wings, orange-and-black stained glass,
and printed on the sky in zigzag lines,
watch bright things rise:

winter moons, the white undersides
of a … condor, once thought doomed,
now flapping wide like the first bird
from ashes.


Questions to consider, based on text from Jeremiah:

  • What are some of the injustices you notice in the world right now?
  • What voices resist or critique those injustices? Who are the prophets of this age?
  • What actions or words are helping reinforce the injustices you have noticed?
  • Do people from within your community, or groups with whom you identify, speak up or take action about the injustices you are noticing?
  • What are some signs of healing or hope that you see for those injustices … what “balm for Gilead” do you witness?
  • What is a daily action or choice you can make, to become more aware or to affect change, about an injustice that is of particular concern to you?

Injustices Named

Our nation is reeling from shockwaves of violence, intolerance, anger, suspicion, and fear. At this moment it feels like our whole country is a powder keg, about to ignite, fueled by long legacies of racism, xenophobia, heterosexism, religious intolerance. — Anathea Portier-Young

… we must understand the lament’s power. Too often as Christians, we edit our prayers to God. We speak frankly to friends, advisors, and paid professionals, but we don’t speak frankly to God. Jeremiah holds nothing back from God and models a prayer life of both praise and lament. … These verses continue to resonate with both Christians and Jews as they confront the troubles of today’s world. What would Jeremiah say if he heard that more soldiers died from their own hand than in combat last year in Afghanistan? What should we say? How would Jeremiah react if he heard that 22 veterans a day commit suicide? Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 still tries to shake us from our complacency. — Garrett Galvin

This fact does not mean that the prophet should cease telling the truth as she sees it from God. But all truth telling is contexted by a careful listening to the pain of those very people…. We modern day would-be prophets would do well to listen carefully to the cries of our people. We may demand from them God’s justice, but in a highly complex and competitive world, the doing of justice may not be so clear-cut. When the people of our flock feel the pressing demands of a capitalist world to work hard and to achieve success; when the women are urged to “have it all,” to achieve great success in business and equal success as spouse and mother, while the men are to “be men” and to be relational and giving, yet powerful and winners, the cries of the people may ring loud in the land. — John Holbert

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. — Desmond Tutu

Non-violence doesn’t mean we have to passively accept injustice. We have to fight for our rights. We have to oppose injustice, because not to do so would be a form of violence. Gandhi-ji fervently promoted non-violence, but that didn’t mean he was complacently accepting of the status quo; he resisted, but he did so without doing harm. — Dalai Lama

Hope & Healing

To be contented human beings we need trust and friendship, which tends to develop much better once we realise that all beings have a right to happiness, just as we do. Taking others’ interests into account not only helps them, it also helps us. Warm-heartedness and concern for others are a part of human nature and are at the core of positive human values — Dalai Lama

The painful truth is that we are not the people we envision ourselves to be—not always. We do not live up to the convictions we profess to be the basis for our lives—not always. We may be in tune to the “justice of the Lord” in some areas of our lives, but I guarantee that there are others where we are not, and we are clueless about that fact. Jeremiah calls us to ask not “Where is God?” but “What have I done?”—to pull back the veil of our appearance of godliness so that we can find the way to real healing. — Alan Brehm

We stuffed scary feelings down, and they made us insane. I think it is pretty universal, all this repression leading to violence and fundamentalism and self-loathing and addiction. All I know is that after 10 years of being sober, with huge support to express my pain and anger and shadow, the grief and tears didn’t wash me away. They gave me my life back! They cleansed me, baptized me, hydrated the earth at my feet. They brought me home, to me, to the truth of me. — Anne Lamott

At the same time Jeremiah reminds me that life is not about sitting around waiting for my medicine.  Band aids and half –measures will not bring the cure we need.  Jesus heals me for a reason.  I’m called to love in return with all my heart, soul and mind, to extend love to my neighbor in gratitude … I know of no other way, no other healing balm, that helps me meet the daily challenges. So I listen to the spiritual and will try to sing it every day this week: Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain; but then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again. — Lillian Daniel

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