discern this

We are an Easter People, and even at the grave, Alleluia is our song.

“The good outnumber you, and we always will.” April 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — discernthis @ 11:05 pm

I heard about the bombings at the Boston Marathon when I checked Facebook during our break in class. I kept checking back in on various news sources throughout the next 90 minutes, wanting to know more, hoping, praying that it wouldn’t be an act of terror, knowing the chances of that were slim.

I had to go to work immediately after, so I didn’t have a chance to keep updated until I got home at almost 10pm. The pit in my stomach didn’t dissipate. I started looking for updates online. I tried to figure out what I’m feeling, what there is that can be said.

There are millions of people mourning tonight, lost in the sadness, trapped in cycles of fear and grief. There are thousands of people tonight working to treat those who were injured, physically or emotionally, by the bombings. There are hundreds of people, maybe more, who were in the race or the crowd and are now beginning to recover from those injuries. There are three people, according to the Boston Police Department, who are dead. We do not yet know their names.

We can offer our support in any number of ways: We can pray for the victims and the survivors. We can donate blood; reports abound of runners who went to hospitals upon learning of the explosions. We can give of our time, if we have the flexibility and appropriate skills. We can donate money; I’m sure there will be relief funds set up soon. We can light candles. We can wear racing shirts or Boston Marathon colors of yellow and blue tomorrow. We can call our family members and friends and tell them we love them.  We can join together and hold on to hope. We can remember that there is good in the world and that good outweighs the bad.

A number of friends have shared Patton Oswalt’s reflection, and I shall do the same. What else is there to say?

 

Boston. Fucking horrible.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”

But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

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Peace, Perfect Peace. April 7, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — discernthis @ 7:02 pm

April 7, 2013 Second Sunday of Easter

Through the dark, cold, depressing, nearly snow-less winter, we held on to a hope that spring would eventually come. The season of Lent, through which we travel each year, promises us that there is light at the end and that on Easter Sunday, just as the lilies begin to open and the daffodils erupt from the earth, we will see the Resurrection. We will see the empty tomb. We will find that promise Jesus made to always be with us has been fulfilled.

As I read through the readings, I was struck deeply at the first reading from Acts. People believed in this weird message from a kid from a Podunk town. People loved him, trusted him so much that they took their loved ones who were ill and set them outside so that one of this kid’s friends could pass by. They had hope. They had faith. And their loved ones were cured.

Kevin and I spent the afternoon walking around his alma mater, Washington College, and he took me through the town cemetery that adjoins the campus. The oldest date we could read was 1772. As always when I find myself in a cemetery, I noticed how many of headstones that referenced Christ. “Peace, Perfect Peace,” one read. “Gone in body, with Jesus in spirit,” said another. Why do we do this?

In a moment filled with pain, grief, loss, we may find ourselves drawn to our faith. Really, what else do we have to hold on to? What else is there, than for us to place everything we have into God, to turn it over to God and say, ‘I got nothin’. This one’s on you.’ But that’s what God wants. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Having hope? Trusting that somewhere, somehow, the pieces are going to fall together in a way that reminds us it’s not our time or our plans, but God’s?

So many in our community today are facing devastating, terrifying situations. People we love are caught in a place where it seems there is no hope, where the despair is all encompassing. One little boy is facing another relapse of his cancer, and his team of amazing doctors is regrouping, preparing to try something else. Another member is preparing for a total life change, moving back across the country after his Navy discharge, and his parents preparing to help him through the transition. Dear friends of our parish are facing relationship challenges that may prove to be insurmountable. One is dealing with a back that just won’t heal. We have within our extended St. Sebastian Community people who are living with HIV and AIDS, addiction, crippling depression, bipolar, and other mental illnesses, grief over the loss of a beloved partner, friend, relative, hurt and anger over betrayal or an lack of understanding.

And yet we find ourselves here. We come to this tiny community in a movie theater, and we worship. We give thanks to a God who loves us beyond all comprehension, who weeps with us when we can do nothing else, who turns our tragedies into opportunities, who graces us with love and mercy and the strength to continue on.

You may know I left the RCC because of the rampant sexual abuse that a few clergy perpetrated and a great many leaders tolerated and hid. For a time, I was so angry at God and the church that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go back.

Eventually, I figured out where my anger needed to lie and started craving the support I’d always known and depended on from my church family. I moved to Maryland, and I found St. Sebastian. I wouldn’t wish my upon anyone. I wouldn’t relive that pain for anything.

But it ultimately brought me here. It is a part of my path. It is a part of my journey, my history. I got to this point because a man over two thousand years ago appeared in a locked room a few days after he died and promised his apostles peace. He broke through all the barriers we erect in our fear, and he gave us peace.

They locked rooms and hid. Jesus found them. I focused all my anger and hurt at God…God broke through. I close my mind. I go into ostrich mode, stick my head into the sand and wait for it to pass…it doesn’t. It’s really not even easy to hide from the pain since the sand gets hot and sticks to my nose and eyelids and … gross.

And then, just when it seems that there is no way things can work out, we begin to find a way out. We begin to find a way to put the pieces back together, to make meaning out of the tragedy.  That’s Jesus’s MO, have you noticed?

We don’t have the benefit of having lived 2000 years ago and experiencing firsthand Jesus walking into the locked room. We depend on stories written down years afterwards. We don’t have the benefit of having Jesus actually walk into the room where we are hiding and offer us peace.

Or do we? A well-timed phone call from a friend, a spontaneous hug from a loved one…or even a stranger. Daffodils exploding on the hillside by the highway. Sunlight streaming through the clouds. Nerds jelly beans. That song, you know the one, the one that never fails to lift you up a little, randomly playing at the grocery store.  A thank you from someone we haven’t spoken with in ages. A snuggle from a pet. A gorgeous, warm spring day. Berger Cookies. Grandma’s Bishop cake. A quote from a favorite book. The heart-melting sound of a baby’s laughter.

I met an old friend of Kevin’s yesterday. They hadn’t seen each other in a couple of years, and it had been months since they spoke. They talked about needing to talk more, needing to just pick up the phone and call or text every once in a while. He said, quietly, profoundly, ‘I need friends. I need people to check in on me once in a while. I fall off the face of the earth for a time, and it gets really hard to come back.’ He touched briefly on some of the things going on in his life and how hard it would be to explain it even to his best friends.

And yet, without taking that first step, without breaking free from the walls we put up around us, there is no way things can improve. Quiet the voices in our heads that discourage us, that tell us it’s not going to work or that people won’t understand. The only way to ensure it’s not going to work or that people won’t understand is if we don’t give it a chance, if we keep making excuses. Give our hearts the opportunity to speak and to make a difference.

We play this role with people every day, and people play that role with us every day. We are that hope. We are that peace. We have the ability to break down those barriers.

 

The Lord be with you!

Let us now, before we move into another great gift of peace that Christ gave us in the Eucharist, extend our hands and open our arms to share with each other Christ’s peace.