The Sorrow of the World
The Sorrow of the World: February 15, 2018
Today is a day that I am feeling the sorrow of the world.
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. And, you might have noticed, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. That was a hard enough, though fruitful co-incidence. But yesterday was also the incidence of another mass shooting. It’s mid-February, and America has endured its 18th incident with a firearm in a school zone since the beginning of 2018.
I am drowning in the broken hearts and smeared ashes that are testament to our collective guilt.
I’m not the first to voice it, but fuck your thoughts and prayers if that is the best you can offer children; if it is all you can offer grieving communities; all that you are willing to offer the mentally ill, the bullied, the desperate. For those are our children, too.
If you’re more shocked by my language than by this senseless horror; know that that is part of the problem. That we become numb to the true outrages and despairing of our complicity in the wrong and in the righting of the wrong.
"A child of God is dead," said Phil Mudd, former FBI senior intelligence adviser, speaking on The Situation Room with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. "Cannot we acknowledge in this country that we cannot accept this?" he asked, choking back tears.
In fact, at least 17 children of God are dead.
Lent is a journey of pain and of promise. Of admitting the unacceptable in our lives. Broken hearts are an apt beginning. So instead of giving up something for Lent this year, how about taking on some new advocacy?
Commit to participate in discussions about the gamut of gun laws that we have or could have. Commit to supporting police who try to enforce them. Commit to mentoring a young person who is lonely or bullied. Commit to sustained prayer to lead you to where God can best use you in these terrible, exquisite, urgent times.
I’ve been watching the Olympics and am constantly, nightly, amazed by what these athletes do. Except for some dicey trips down gentle mountains on long-ago youth ski trips, I don’t have much experience with winter sport.
These athletes are so dedicated, so single-minded and single-hearted. They are truly in alignment with their calling.
I’ve remembered more than once that lovely scene in Chariots of Fire, set at the 1924 Olympics, when Eric Liddell is being scolded by his sister for training instead of immediately returning to the mission field in China. He says, in his beautiful Scottish burr, “I believe God made me for a purpose…but he also made me fast! And when I run, I feel His pleasure. To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt.”
That is the alignment I seek. To feel God’s pleasure in using me. And not just in the serious, important-seeming, vocational way; but in the things that bring me pleasure, too. That is the alignment I seek.
Alignment is a clearer and clearer understanding of living the call of God in my life. It is not following a line, it is a multi-dimensional spiraling. Spiraling higher is not to go up; it may be to go deep. It is a higher order of magnitude, more and more focus, more and more resonant with the pitch of God’s note at my core.
That level of alignment allows me to feel the world’s sorrow. Do you feel it?
We Americans, we Western Christians are so afraid to feel. To feel is to be vulnerable, and we associate vulnerability with fear. And weakness.
It is neither.
It is the source of true compassion. It is the deep well that makes possible the change God wants to see in the world. Using you.
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations have recently featured a renewed look at the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5: 1-12). Ponder this in your broken hearts and ash-smeared heads. Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
Do you feel that? This alignment with our God is the only way that we can move, creatively and compassionately, to the Beloved Community.
You—YOU--were made for such a time as this. To give up would be to hold God in contempt.
Do not deny us the benefit of your presence.