Beloved St. John’s community,
Recently I had an interaction with a relative that was a profound learning experience for me. This relative and I profoundly disagree about many things – politics, racism, Black Lives Matter. He and I and a number of others got into a conversation about these things that quickly got heated. Afterward, he told me he felt that his intelligence and morals were being attacked and insulted. Even though I think he did a fair amount of doing the same thing to others, I had an “a-ha” moment. I have been watching my own feelings of anger and pain about what is happening in our country ratcheting up, building and growing. I realize his have too. I have not felt heard by those I love in my life who disagree with me; I have felt demonized and minimized. I think he has felt the same.
My friends, there is much collective trauma in our nation today. The trauma is not symmetrical: those who are oppressed have endured the constant threat of violence from which there is no protection or escape, in a way that those who have privilege have not. Nevertheless, there is trauma everywhere. When people are traumatized and feel attacked, it’s much harder to listen. It’s hard to hold one another’s experiences with kindness or gentleness. It’s hard to heal.
We deeply need healing, soothing spaces in which to feel safe, in which to drink deeply from the well of kindness and gentleness, in order to live differently in this world—in order to break the cycles of fear, hatred, violence and racism that are so endemic in our nation. We are called to be this kind of space for each other. I know that some of you who miss the building the most feel that way because in our weekly gatherings, there was a beautiful, physical space in which soothing and healing could happen. It went beyond the words: it was in the strength of the walls and the architecture, the smells and the bells. It was in the physical gathering of people who cared for one another. Of course, most deeply, it was in the presence of God in whose honor all those things were built.
Now, more than ever, we need to be this community for each other. Thankfully, we can be—because our community relies on the actual presence and power of God in Christ. Our baptismal covenant begins with the promise that we will “continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers.” None of these require a building. They do require intention, showing up, and opening ourselves to the power of God.
Tuesday, we began “100 Days of Prayer.” If you have not yet subscribed to this daily email, please email Rachel Svihel. You can also find daily posts on the public and private Facebook pages. These meditations—scriptures and questions for “Dwelling in the Word, Dwelling in the World”—are one way we can practice drinking deeply from the well of God’s kindness and gentleness. Each day, we will pray for 8 minutes and 46 seconds for ourselves, each other, and our nation. This is a way to steep ourselves in the compassionate love of God, who is the ground of our being, and let our shoulders come down and the tight fists in our stomachs relax. Then, we will be open to God’s healing, and we can become agents of healing in the world.