There is a different kind of silence
Among those who are gathered
When Taps is played.
And, like happened again this morning,
I stand with my head bowed
And tears in my eyes.
It is important to remember
Those who have lost their lives.
Or, some part of them.
And the heart wrenching, heartbreaking
Cost of war.
To Bloody Ridge
To Khe Sanh
To Tora Bora.
But, it is a fine line
Between remembering and honoring
Those whose lives were lost
And glorifying war.
I have never been there
But I trust those who have and who remind us
That war is hell.
And, I think, always a failure.
A failure to find another way
Until no other way seems possible
And more names are added to the list
Of those who have died.
Biden started it. Organizing his campaign around the need and his ability to “heal the divisions” which have festered in our country over the last four years, if not longer. And, my hunch is that in most Christian worship services this morning and maybe in most Shabbat services or Evening Prayers on Friday, the idea of healing found its way to lips of clergy and the hearts and minds of those who listened to them. It certainly did in the worship service I listened to this morning. Republican lawmakers and leaders have joined the chorus asking Democratic lawmakers and leaders not to proceed with an impeachment vote against the President for the sake of healing.
Here is what troubles me about our desire for and the way we seem to be talking about healing.
It sounds to me our definition of healing and means to forget and to move on.
To forget that six people have died as a result of what happened on January 6th.
To forget that a noose, calling to mind countless years of lynching, was hung outside the Capital.
To forget that a Confederate flag was carried through the Rotunda and that someone who stormed the Capital wore a Camp Auschwitz shirt and that others wore or carried other racist and anti-semitic symbols.
Instead of forgetting, I think the opposite is needed.
I think we need to remember.
We need to remember what it looked like.
We need to remember what it sounded like.
We need to remember the rhetoric and lies which added fuel to the fire.
We need to remember the rage.
We need to remember what we felt while watching.
We need to remember the fear.
We need to remember the grief of those who have lost loved ones.
We need to remember all that and more.
And, if there is to be healing, there must also be responsibility.
Responsibility taken for their part and our part in what happened.
Those who were silent because it was politically expedient need to take responsibility.
Those who, by their words and actions, added to the distrust and the lies need to take responsibility.
Those who participated need to take responsibility.
And, you and I (at least those of us who are white) need to take responsibility.
We need to own up to our privilege, and what that has meant and what that has cost.
We need to own up to the subtle and structural ways others are held down or pushed aside.
We need, all of us, to own up to our own tribalism.
Our own distrust of those who look different or sound different.
And, we need to own up to our desire for an easy way out.
When the only way out is through the shards of what has been broken.
And will require of us hard work.
And living, for a while, with a deep discomfort and sense of dis-ease.
On this Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend…
Let us pray for any and for all who have lost their lives in any conflict.
Their names remembered on bronze plaques
And marked by crosses or stars or crescents that line far too many fields.
Let us pray for all the mothers who have lost a son.
And fathers who have lost a daughter.
And brothers who have lost a sister.
And children who have lost a parent.
And, let us pray for our country.
Our fellow countrymen and women.
Those who are doing well and those who are not.
And, let us give thanks for freedom.
The freedom to go where we please.
To worship as we please.
To have a voice in deciding those who will govern.
And to express our own point of view.
And let us pray for ourselves.
For if we take God at God’s word and claim our place among the People of God we are called to something more. And even though we can’t quite see it, we are to live, work, speak, dream our way towards that day which may almost be now…
When the lion lies down with the lamb.
When swords will be transformed into plows.
And spears into tools to harvest food enough for all.
And when we will be named as peacemakers and because of that be known as the children of God.
For, if not us, O God, then who?
And if not now, O God, then when?
His father died last week.
Not unexpected, but still hard.
A hole now in his heart.
Writing a note to him this morning made me think about my Dad who died two years ago. I think of him nearly every day. I still feel the last hug he gave me. And, I remember what he said to me and the love and sense of loss in his voice as he gave me that hug. I remember the songs he and my Mom sang in the car as we left home for our family vacation. I remember the conversation we had when I didn’t win the Most Valuable Player Award in the Little League All Star game and someone else did. All those memories and so many more.
Sometimes those memories make me smile.
Other times they bring tears to my eyes.
But, I am grateful for each and every one of them.
In my note this morning, I included this quote by Frederick Buechner which echos over and over again within me.
“When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again you will know me. It means that even after I die you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.”
Dad, thank you.
It is not so much about you is it, O God.
It is, at least, as much about us.
Our prayers that is.
And our praying.
Our remembering and our naming.
Our please and our thank you.
Those moments when our hearts break open a bit more.
When we pull others and the world just a bit closer.
Those times when we risk bearing the pain and struggles of another.
And, layer our gratitude on top of the gratitude of another until our hearts and theirs overflow.
And, so we pray, O God.
Sometimes with words.
Sometimes with sighs to deep for words.
Sometimes with our tears.
Sometimes stopped in our tracks by beauty and grace.
However we can or do,
In this moment, our prayers for the world entrusted now to our care and keeping.
Praying, too, that our lives follow where our prayers first lead.
The immediate horror of that day has dimmed.
Walking through the village today it is business as usual.
Coffee at the deli.
Conversations in front of the post office.
All the normal things.
How different today than then.
In the midst of Irma and Harvey and devastating fires in the West and the normal day in/day out responsibilities of work, I have tried to pay attention to the day on the calendar. So much has changed. I wish I could say for the better. I wish I could say that because of what took place 16 years ago as a nation we had become stronger and more united and more understanding, but I think the opposite is true. We have become more fearful and more divided and much more suspicious of the stranger in our midst. Even when they have lived next door for years. For that, and for all whose lives were more directly impacted by terrorist attack than mine, I grieve. Maybe someday we will find a better way forward.