Saturday, June 23, 2018

Not In My Name

I flew home from a week in Chicago yesterday evening. As I sat on the plane in my usual window seat next to two empty seats, I wondered who my seatmates might be. Soon I saw a Mother and her young son heading my way. The Mom sat on the aisle and her 3-year-old sat in the middle seat next to me. It took a few minutes before the "Little Man," as his mother called him, would talk to me. But he did introduce his stuffed moose, "Moosey," to me through his Mom.

As we were flying, the plane encountered some turbulence. Each time the plane bounced, Adam (I finally got him to tell me his name) reached over for reassurance by holding his mother's hand. A few times the bump was worse than others and Adam would drag her entire arm into his lap for comfort as he held it tightly in his little hands. It was sweet and gave me a smile remembering moments in my own son’s life when all he wanted was reassurance from me with a touch, a smile, a hug, or a simple moment of eye contact.

While watching this play out, I was also poignantly reminded of the little ones who have been separated from their parents along the southern border of our nation since May. Over 2,300 children have been separated from their parents by US Immigration policies. The stories and images are disturbing.

Whether you agree or disagree with the “zero tolerance” policy of the administration about the adults crossing the border as refugees or immigrants – I hope we can agree that ripping little kids out of the arms of their parents is just plain wrong. There are really no easy answers, but the fact remains that refugees coming into this nation for asylum need to be handled better. Immigrants can and should be treated with respect and dignity. Putting their children into cages and “tender age” facilities is wrong on every level. 

Separating children from their parents is potentially going to scar these children for the rest of their lives. Children are being terrified and there is no mother or father's hand to hold theirs. Every child should be protected from danger and fear. We are causing it right now. This is not ok.

RefuJesus by David Hayward
I know we have done wrong by too many in the past, as well – First Nations People, African Americans, Japanese Americans, and others – and we need to continue to atone for those atrocities. Now - this is our moment to say, “Not in my name. Not in our country.” Our nation can be better than this moving into the future.

Jesus calls us to act in the name of refugees as he was a refugee. Jesus calls us to treat one another in the same way we would want to be treated. Jesus calls us to welcome the little children.

Speak out, speak up. We cannot be silent on this. We cannot allow this policy to stand. 

Call your Representatives and Senators. Donate to organizations working on this along the border. 

Let’s do better. Let’s be better. Let’s all say together, “Not in my name.”

Friday, December 22, 2017

This is ME!

"This is Me" from The Greatest Showman

"When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me."

This song blew me away when we saw the movie on Wednesday evening. I was literally unable to stop crying as it was sung by the "rejects and castoffs" that PT Barnum gave a voice, a place, and a home to in the circus. They became family and grew to accept themselves in ways they had not before. The words struck a chord with my soul. I was mesmerized and moved.

Too often in our world persons are rejected by those who see them as "other" or too different from themselves. This happens to LGBTQIA folks who are seen as sinful or repulsive by their families or friends. It happens to persons of color who are seen as unworthy or less than by a culture founded on white supremacy. It happens to larger people who are seen as lazy or unmotivated. It happens to anyone the "culture" chooses to "other."

In The Greatest Showman it was the bearded lady, the dog boy, the tallest man, the tattooed woman, and others who were criticized, cast out, rejected, and picketed against by angry townies. It's the ones they don't understand or even view as people.

In real life it is too often these same folks who are left bruised and battered on the side of the road. The immigrant striving for a better life, the refugee who only wants to find safety for their family, the transgender man or woman wanting to BE who they are meant to be, the gay kid fearfully coming out to conservative parents, the poor farmer who needs a helping hand after a flood, the addict who is trying to stay straight, the black kid waving a toy gun in a park, the lesbian couple holding hands in a movie theater that you scoff at, the Islamic woman trying to walk the street without getting laughed at or taunted, or the island people needing water and power when they have been forgotten after a hurricane.

In real life the rejection can impact us more than we know. The looks, the stares, the laughs, the name calling, the slights, the oppression seen and unseen, the lack of acceptance, the fear of people in power, the isolation and bitterness - they all get old. They all tear at our spirits. They all make us weary. They all keep us locked in cells if we let them.

In real life it is often far too easy to turn our backs on the "other." But it is at just these moments when we - as people of faith - are asked to be our best selves and to see the divine in every person we meet. To acknowledge that even if we are different we are siblings to one another is more powerful than the stinging rebukes of others. To bear witness to the divine and speak up when others treat someone as less than or oppress them in any way. To shine a light on the last, the lost, the least, and the left behind as they too are part of the beloved community.

God has made all of us to be who we're meant to be. We owe no one an apology. We won't hide away. We can't be scared to see the light. We belong in the light. We are the light.

This is me. This is us. This is who we're meant to be.

"And I know that I deserve your love
There's nothing I'm not worthy of
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is proof
This is who I'm meant to be, this is me."

Listen to the song here - This is ME! from The Greatest Showman.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

In Silence We Await (fixed link)

Holy Saturday

We sit in the pain of death.
We sit in the sorrow of loss.
We sit in the stillness of sorrow.
We sit in the uncertainty of the future.

Black Saturday

We stand in the midst of grief.
We stand in the shadow of the cross.
We stand in the midst of betrayers.
We stand in the fear of the empire.

Easter Saturday

We walk near the tomb hoping for any sign.
We walk in the solitude of loneliness.
We walk in the shadow of loss.
We walk in the hope of the resurrection.

But for now we sit and stand and walk in darkness.

Jesus has died. The world sits in that loss.

Holy Saturday

Today we wait in sadness. 
Today we sit in darkness.
Today we honor the death of Jesus.

And in silence we await.

Karyn L. Wiseman, 2017