Never Silent

interfaith vigilSunday I am joining other community clergy and faith leaders in Burlington in a vigil to raise awareness, center ourselves, and hear the call to action that the recent shootings, largely motivated by racism and sometimes overt calls for white supremacy, give.

This morning, I read these words of Rev. Emily Heath of the United Church of Christ, in their work Courageous Faith, which speak to the heart of what I feel our still-speaking God is saying to me and, I think, members of my community who are white and can easily get by without engaging this issue:

take side with justice“Tyrants succeed because of their ability to split people apart. By driving a wedge between two groups that could be allied for change, they reduce the obstacles to their own pursuit of power. To choose not to be divided, but to listen instead to one another’s stories, is an act of resistance. It’s a refusal to let oppressive voices shape the narrative, a commitment to finding the places where our interests intersect. The bonds of understanding we form with one another by hearing these stories allow us to remain united in the faces of disinformation and the distortion of truth. The better we know the stories of others, the more we can stand up and call a lie out as a lie when our friends and neighbors are being targeted. . .

” In the aftermath of Charlottesville [and other acts of racist violence], … the willingness of white people to stand up and reject the rhetoric of white supremacy has become even more important. Our testimonies must be offered in the public square, but must also be injusticestated plainly in more private settings. We must speak the truth at our family gatherings when a relative makes a racist comment. When someone tells an anti-Semitic joke at school or work, we have to be willing to confront it. If a friend passes on misinformation as the truth, we have to be able to trust that a true friendship allows lies to be called out.”

Let’s all learn to speak and act our truth, especially when it points to our common humanity, and the worth of all people as God’s very own children, of boundless worth.

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah Royal

professional 5 20 19

Learning to Count

stop violenceHere is the excerpt of a poem I read for reflection/ meditation at our staff meeting with hospice that is very appropriate to the events this past week . You can read the full poem at https://poets.org/poem/pedagogy-conflict

When I was a child,
I learnt to count to five
one, two, three, four, five.
but these days, I’ve been counting lives, so I count
one life
one life
one life
one life
one life
because each time
is the first time
that that life
has been taken.
Legitimate Target
has sixteen letters
and one
long
abominable
space
between
two
dehumanising
words.

Song of the South: Life Weaver

This morning in a meeting with other chaplains, we discussed the heartache of the recent shootings, the rising tide of hatred in our country, its impact on those we know already suffering from poverty and illness, and what our little bit of work do.

It reminded me of a poem I wrote that, in many ways, memorializes my late mother and other women of faith who did their part to add beauty and peace in the world; and reminds me of our power to each weave some beauty, healing, grace.  Even if it does not seem it can change the whole world, it can change.  Let’s all be life weavers.

Micah

Life Weaver

seamstress 2

I see her, needle and thread in hand,

knitting away her fear and sorrow

for the little one laying before her,

knitting away the losses that lie

at the root of each fear

with more precision than I,

knees and hands caked in dirt,

ever can pull up my weeds by their roots

in my own garden,

yet also knitting hopes and dreams,

as if each new strand

creates a brighter future

for this child of love.

And perhaps it does.

 

They say our intention, when deeply held

in meditation,

in prayer,

in concentration,

has some quantum power

to shape our world.

The story is that water,

placed under microscope,

differs.

When people speak in anger

tightly held in focus over it,

the lens shows such water

will have a chaos, a fury, a lack of order

which water under the same lens

frozen instead as words of peace, joy, and compassion

are spoken over as the heart’s true focus.

 

I am no quantum mechanic.

I lack the toolkit to tinker with fate,

let alone determine if such claims are true.

Or do I?

For this young woman seems certain,

her eyes tightening and hands furious at work,

certain that the only tools she needs

to shape the web of life,

these quantum threads of fate,

for this littlest of ones, are

her needles, her thread, and her heart afire with love.

 

Who can say she is wrong?

I have upon my mantle

a worn yet welcome scarf

woven by such a woman,

a weaver not young but threadworn,

battered by her years.

When I touch it, my fingers come alive.

I can almost feel some unseen flame dance,

setting my whole soul to tingling.

 

Is this not why mother

baked cakes with care

to give to the mourning we knew,

that they may be nourished

not just by some crumb of bread

but by the taste of human kindness?

Is this not why the preacher raises bread and cup,

muttering ancient words,

why each sacred eve words of kaddish are spoken

by chosen people before meal,

why Sufis spin,

and some pilgrims bow five times

toward the East upon their mats?

 

In truth, is this not also why,

taking pen in hand,

I too weave my strands of stories,

each word a gem,

hoping to craft my own worry beads

upon which I can join

my muttered prayers

or, better yet, weave

some ornate blanket

to warm not just myself

but others against life’s winter chill?