When will this be brought down?

It makes for a daily battle to be a person who is consciously paying attention. I’m not a violent person, far from it, but I’ve clinched my fist many times as of late. It’s difficult to be burdened with care. Each morning feels like I’m walking out onto the fields of war without any armor on. I wake up and am shot at before I even have time to put on my defenses. And yet my body still feels like it’s been carrying a heavy armor. My back is sore. My shoulders heavy. Stress holds a tight grip on my upper neck. My eyes burn as they stare at nothing.

It’s been a difficult year, we all know this, but those difficulties seemed to strengthen when our nation was hit with hurricanes while in the middle of a national dialogue about race. We were already increasing in our division when our President called protesting athletes “sons of bitches.” Then the powerful men began to fall; scandals of sexual misconduct buzzed up our phones. Tax bills were crafted. Internet threatened. Photos of slavery leaked. Concert and church goers massacred. Pedestrians run over. Fires destroyed homes. Public lands and sacred sites threatened. Swat Men murdered another vulnerable person. A polar bear starves. Native Americans insulted when they should be honored. Civil Rights leaders slighted. Arrests made of people who worked in putting our President in power. Nuclear War threatened. Peace efforts in the Middle East all but nullified. A child abuser endorsed by a major political party and even the President of the United States as people of faith forfeit their soul to gain the world. Immigrants threatened and millions pushed to the side. I’m angry all the time. I mourn all the time. Every single day. Multiple times a day.

It’s been difficult to find space for silence. I can barely release the grip of my phone let alone put it in my pocket or turn it off. The buzz of breaking news hums across the wooden tables of my coffee shops. I delete one app just to frantically pace back and forth through another.

My body screams that what’s happening is not something it was created to bear. And yet my brain is fixated on the problems. Troubled by the silence. Angered by the justifications. Addicted to the outrage. I want justice to rage against this evil. I think of Baldwin’s final assertion “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!” The voices I often turn to for spiritual sanctuary are angry too. How can they not be? The injustice is so pervasive. To pay attention is to be angry. To ignore is to feel guilty. To be silent is to feel complicit. Was this all Christ felt when he sweat blood before his arrest? Is this why the autopsy of Dr. King revealed that he, a 39 year old man at the time of his death, had the heart of sixty year old?

It’s such a conflict to have a body that tells me I’m not meant to carry this, and a heart that feels so determined to do so. To have a soul that sees the voids and demands that it must do SOMETHING.  You find solidarity in poems: Do not go gentle into that good night, rage, rage against the dying of the light. And yet are burdened with feelings of screaming into silence as people you love and have trusted champion evil with excuses. I don’t mean to sound hopeless, I don’t feel hopeless, nor do I believe anyone would describe me as hopeless. But I am wounded all the same.This constant shock at the perversion of so much that I once trusted is defeating. When will this be brought down?

I constantly feel dilemma between the “Be still and know that I am God, verses of the Scriptures and the prophetic nature of others.” I’ve struggled finding my place in between trusting God with the power and trusting that he has equipped us to be the power as well. Doesn’t matter how learned I am with the scriptures, or how many pastors tell me, I struggle with wondering how much am I supposed to give to this fight and how much I’m supposed to give away?  It is a spiritual battle after all. I should probably be surprised it didn’t feel like a battle for most of my life. But it does now. A battle against the very people who profess to be on my team. I miss the bliss of my ignorance.

Having faith that it will all work out and grieving your new eyes to see is such a paradox. It’s a dark night. A painful unraveling that lies you bare before whatever power holds it all. Lies you in an entirely new ignorance, a conscious ignorance, that is overwhelmed by the awareness of what it does not know. One that calls on trust more than perfect answers. It’s a different sort of trust than the blindness I once gave to a particular rendition of Jesus. He turned out to be a fraud. A tool for propaganda that wooed unsuspecting followers to align with Empire and political parties. I take my anger of this lie that once owned me out on the faceless “those” still living in it’s darkness.  It’s unfair and adds more weight. A weight I’ve tried so hard to escape these last two months.

When will this be brought down?

It came as a surprise last Thursday night.

Snow.

The beautiful frozen tears of the sky. I was completely lost in them. Days prior it had been in the high 80’s totally betraying the comfort often brought on by the Christmas season. But alas, there it was. Advent. The season of listening. Of waiting.

Of expecting peace on earth. The songs of peace and joy came to life as flakes swarmed all around me. There was nothing else.

There was nothing else.

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me

In that evening snowstorm I felt a ceasefire.

A night moved towards silence. Silence I hadn’t felt in weeks.
I drew closer to Him, from care He sets me free.
The God that is with me faced these same evils that weigh heavy on my heart. He shared this same anger at stubborn hearts from his own tribe. He sought to bring down these same powers that wound our most vulnerable. He is not distant. He is in the struggle with each of us. Found in the power of Mary’s Song of Praise:
“He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.”

Mary convicts. Calls me to tear down my own walls, my own false power. She gives me hope that that which weighs heavy on me will be brought down. And someday this fall will be as beautiful as the snowflakes on a Thursday night. And so I find hope in the expectations of Her song. I  build hope in the struggles that preceded the birth of a Savior. There’s nothing easy about the salvation of the world. But come it will. May I open the doors of my inn in a world unwilling to welcome the God of liberation. Giving the savior a place to be born in my own soul.

May expectation deliver me from rage.

May expectation deliver me to peace.

May expectation lead me to tomorrow.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me

 

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