Saturday, April 4, 2020

Boxes


Boxes

More than twenty boxes wait to be filled. Twenty families will come for food. Families of one and two. Families of three. Families of four. Families of five, six, and seven.
The larger the family, the more boxes they receive. We start with beans. Then more canned goods, pasta, rice, peanut butter and jelly. Bread, baking mix, mac and cheese, ramen, oil, nuts, cereal, snacks. Milk, produce, meat. Boxes stuffed with food. 

Twenty families. But we only have eight rolls of toilet paper. We only have twelve bars of soap.

Who gets a roll of toilet paper? Who gets a bar of soap? They can’t come back for a month. How do we choose?

Which families get what they need today? Which families don’t?

Hospital beds were waiting empty. Now they are full. The patients in the beds need help to breathe. They need medicine. They need doctors and nurses to care for them, even though they are dangerously sick and highly contagious.

Covid-19 is an equal opportunity killer.
The killer is afoot. The killer is on the prowl.

Thousands of patients. But not enough ventilators. Not enough PPE. Not enough of many other needed supplies.

Who gets a ventilator? Which health care workers get the proper PPE? There are not enough beds. There are not enough ventilators. There are not enough masks, gowns, face shields…. There is not enough medicine to induce a coma for the ventilators to be inserted.

Which patients get what they need? Which patients don’t?

We will look back one day and know what went wrong for a country that used to be strong. A country that used to be prepared. A country that was great just a few years ago. We will see each and every word and action, or lack thereof, that allowed an equal opportunity killer to blow through our cities, towns, and country-sides.

The truth will be known.

Until then, I start with beans. I fill boxes. I randomly add toilet paper or soap.
I pray for the people I watch through glass doors as they pick up their food. We can’t help them put food in their cars these days.
They come to us dressed in all their God-ness. We wave. They wave. They are gone.

Doctors and nurses treat their patients. Patients dressed in all their God-ness. They just can’t breathe anymore. Medical personnel do everything they possibly can without enough of what they need to be the healers they are trained to be.
Then they watch through the glass windows as patient after patient dies alone in their bed. They are gone.

Doctors and nurses and first responders are gone, too.  

There are more boxes. The boxes outside the hospitals are filled. There is plenty of death to fill them, there is no shortage. There is not one single empty box. The boxes are stuffed with death.

So, I pray…

God be with the hungry, the poor, the young, the old, the black, the brown, the white, the rich, the lost, the least, the elite, the proud, the confused, the dying.

Fill us like empty boxes. Fill us with you. Fill us with your goodness and your God-ness. May we be some kind of light in a very dark darkness. We are in a scary and unfamiliar place. Fill us with you. Please show yourself to us and through us in acts of kindness and mercy. Fill us with you. We will empty ourselves of your love to those around us and wait for you to fill us again. Amen.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Breath


Breath

Running through the sunny park. Climbing up the ladder to the metal slide
we glide down, one towhead behind the other. Then off we go, my brother and I,
from slide to swings to merry-go-round. Finally, we have to stop.
We laugh and try to catch our breath.

Riding bicycles with my eight-year-old best friend.
Snaking through sidewalks of the university in our town.
It’s a race. She wins.
We laugh and try to catch our breath.

In the pool. Practice, practice. I must swim the entire length under water.
(My self-imposed challenge) It’s a long pool.
Finally, I make it. Unbelievable! I hang on to the rough edge with both hands.
I smile with pride and try to catch my breath.

Is he going to say it? Will tonight be the night the words are spoken?
His eyes look so deeply into mine. I wait.
“I love you,” he says.
I’m surprised to realize I’m holding my breath.  

“Breathe! Pant! Pant!” The nurse doesn’t mean to yell.
But I’m not paying attention. It hurts too much to breathe.
“Breathe!”
I try but can’t. I wait until the contraction is over.
Then I cry and try to catch my breath.

Finally, a tiny voice cries out.
A very first breath of a brand, new life.

I dance. I dance in the seminary chapel. I dance in the sanctuary.
I teach girls to dance. Eight of them.
They dance to hymns and psalms and spiritual songs.
I name them Ruach. Breath of God.
Wordlessly they lift their arms to heaven.
Silently they twirl and link arms and bow down in honor.
When the dance is finished, the sanctuary feels a fresh holiness.
The dancers quietly catch their breath. So does the congregation.

Grandpa can’t breathe. He has congestive heart failure.
He sleeps sitting up in a chair.
He doesn’t talk much, but still smiles.
One day, he doesn’t talk at all. He doesn’t smile.
He breathes his last, labored breath.
He’s been healed into eternal life.
We all try to catch our breath, but tears chase breath away.

Over the years, I walk into hospital rooms.
I walk into nursing homes.
People I love and pastor have oxygen tubes in nostrils.
They have oxygen masks covering half their face.
If they have the energy, they smile with their eyes.
Or cry.
They try so hard to catch their fleeting breath.

I walk into ICU rooms.
Eyes are closed. Hands and feet are still. Machines hum.
Fluorescent green numbers on a small screen flash up, then down, then up again.
A ventilator pumps in a precise and unchanging rhythm. In…out…in…out…
Forced breath. Fake breath. Life-saving breath.

In March 2020, our country waits. We hold our breath.
Something invisible and unmanageable seeks to take our breath away.
It wishes to creep and seep through nostrils, eyes, mouth.
It is the Breath Thief.
It’s enough to take our breath away even before it seizes our communities.

In the midst of confusion and misinformation I choose to do this:
With each breath I will be thankful for the mercies I see around me.
With each breath I will pray for loved ones. I will pray for strangers.
With each breath I will hold on to the God who loves me. The God who loves you.
With each breath I will seek to be a woman of action, not a woman of fear.
With each breath I will take in the reality and prepare for the outcome.
With each breath I will think beyond myself and remember others.
With each breath I will have courage and strive to be kind.
I might even dance, so I can remember how to catch my breath again.
Because I know this certain thing: Each breath is a gift from God. Ruach.

May God’s breath fill your soul with peace and lighten your spirit. Amen.


Monday, March 16, 2020

Ashes to Ashes: A Eulogy for the Republican Party


“Ashes to Ashes”
A Eulogy for the Republican Party

“Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.

A simple song the children sang,
The Plague, black death, on breath did hang.
Posies in pockets could not protect,
From small red rings announcing death.
From ashes they came, to ashes they fell,
Not fooled by posies, death cast its’ spell.

We watch the trial of a foolish man,
His followers sing while holding hands.
“He'll give us riches, and White shall reign!”
Bigotry seals their decisive shame.
Simple fools hitch to his lies,
Stare at the ground, instead of the skies.  

Democracy, where freedom rings,
Is threatened by fake offerings.
Trump’s betrayal of liberty,
Has wrenched apart what once was “we.”
Now it is hatred between “us” and “them,”
The fire fueled by Republicans.

"Cage brown children! Attack human rights!
Trod down the poor! Keep this nation White!"

Beware, oh leaders of the land,
Democracy will surely stand!

This cruel circle you refuse to break,
And reject to honor the oath you take.
Not a bit impartial, and gravely unfair,
Ignore all evidence, slumber in chairs.
Your false king daily spreads his plague,
Your arrogance is badly played.

Republicans take hands and sing,
A foolish song of rosie ring.
Your party’s demise is your sure fate,
No pocket posies at your waist.
And even if there might have been,
Ashes to Ashes, your song’s end.  

Ashes, Ashes, you all fall down.
No fake king, no fake crown.
Lady Liberty with hand held high,
Will shed her light on this darkest sky.

Then all the children will rise and sing,
With joy at the final reckoning.
Children welcomed from every land,
To be cherished and held by gentle hands.
No more cruelty, harm, or hate,
New songs of life for them await.

This sad eulogy should not be,
But Republicans, this seems your plea.
Unless you step from dark to light,
“We all fall down!” Your certain plight.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

"Intentions" For the Women #HarveyWeinstein


#HarveyWeinstein

Intentions

When she says, “Me too.” When she says, “You know me.”
My intention is to sit, listen, acknowledge, and support her.

When she says nothing, but her tears tell the story,
My intention is to let the story be told, then validate her truth so she can catch her breath.

When she says, “He did these things.”
My intention is to believe her and share her pain.

When she says, “He tried to silence my voice, steal my identity, erase my name, and destroy my soul…”
My intention is to remind her of her humanity. My intention is to remind her of her powerful voice. My intention is to remind her of her strength.

When he (whoever he may be) thinks he can trample her being and steal her voice,
My intention is to join with all the voices who condemn him for his brazen cruelty.

When he (whoever he may be) attacks, beats, and abuses women for decades and somehow evades justice,
My intention is to encourage the women who finally have their say.

When he (whoever he may be) says, “It was her fault. She wanted it.”
My intention is to be enraged, and then work to highlight her brave honesty.

Whether he is a movie mogul, a president, a man of power, or the guy down the street,
My intention is to condemn his lies, his ruthlessness, and his brutality.

When he goes to prison,
My intention is to lift my eyes with hers and feel the streams of justice flow down.

And tomorrow, when he (whoever he may be) is made known for his brand of cruelty,
My intention is to continue the fight with her.
     

Thursday, January 2, 2020

A Prayer for the New Year - 2020


January 2020 – A Prayer for the New Year

Holy One,

Our calendars have turned to a new year. Our earthly way of telling time is not your way. But you know this.

There is much to thank you for, and there are concerns to voice.

(The latter first.)

Our human history shows us the world has always been in turmoil, different times and different places. But we are living in it now and see turmoil night and day before our eyes as we gaze at screens of every kind. Some of us witness turmoil firsthand, no screens needed.

Fires are raging, waters are rising, plants and animals are facing extinction, wars are commencing, human beings are violated and tortured.

Your creation groans.

Your creation weeps desperate tears.

Where are you, Holy One? Have you forsaken your creation? Or have we pushed you so far away you cannot dwell with us any longer?

Those are the wrong questions. We don’t have the power to move you or chase you away. We only have the power to step away from you and your goodness. We have the power to try to ignore you.

So, please forgive us when goodness and kindness aren’t our first reactions.

Forgive us when we carelessly and even purposefully destroy your creation with our pollution and filth.

Forgive us for changing the climate of this earth with our reckless behavior.

Forgive us for causing the extinction of plants and animals through our self-centeredness, thoughtlessness, and cruelty.

Forgive us for ignoring your commands to love one another, to love our neighbors, to respect and accept strangers, to feed the hungry, to give water to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to visit those who are sick and imprisoned.  

Forgive us for allowing cruel and selfish leaders to make destructive decisions that cause your creation to unravel itself.

Forgive all of us who think money is more important than the lives and well-being of others.

I lift my fist toward heaven in anger, yes furious anger, for how refugees are treated in my country, and in every country where people in desperate need ask for help because they have been displaced, threatened by violence, and are homeless.

I lift my fist toward heaven in anger because you can handle it.

You, Holy One, never intended your creatures to torture one another.

I will not ask you to bless the refugees. To bless them sounds passive. To bless them sounds trite. To bless them means nothing.

In this brand, new year, Holy One, I lift my fist toward heaven and shout: Release the captives! Reunite the families who have been wrenched apart. Wipe away the tears as only you can do. Heal the bodies, minds, and souls.

Give us the open hearts to carry out your healing and redemption to those who suffer.
You have cast a vision for us. One where weapons will be no more. Ploughshares and pruning hooks will be made from our guns. On your Holy Mountain there will be no weapons of any kind. There will be no killing. Beasts, wild and tame, will nibble on hay together. Children will be safe. No one who hurts another will be on your Holy Mountain.

(Now for the former)

Thank you.

Thank you, Holy One, for casting a vision of how we can bring more holiness to this unholy world.

Thank you for showing us how to live in peace with one another.

Thank you for reminding us to love, because you loved us first.

Thank you for giving us the means to feed all who hunger. Because we have more food than we know what to do with, we just aren’t wise in our decisions of how to share.
Thank you for those leaders of nations who have honor, integrity, and selflessness to serve their people, instead of using people to serve themselves.

Thank you for having a plan bigger than we can imagine. Thank you for calling us to be voices in the wilderness preparing the way and making the paths straight. Thank you for giving us good work to do so that we don’t get stuck thinking about ourselves for too long or too often.

Thank you for creating us in your image. Every single one of us.

Thank you for accepting our anger, our tears, our despair, our sin, or our refusal to believe in you anymore.

Thank you for never turning your back on our ugly behavior.

Please, Holy One, heal your world. Heal all of creation. Heal our broken natures. Heal our broken hearts. Bind us up and bind us together.

In this human year of 2020, may peace finally return. May love abound. May forgiveness reign. May evil be quelled. May we see you in those who are trodden down, and may we lift them up in the name of your Holiness.

Amen.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Dear Mr. President - December 2019


Dear Mr. President – December 2019

Dear Mr. President,


But, enough about you.

This past week I was at a clergy meeting. We meet once a month and talk about churchy things. At this meeting we had a new pastor join us. She has taken a position in a local church. She went around the room, shook each of our hands and asked where we served. When she got to me, I told her my name and said, “I’m not serving at this time.”

Serve. That’s what we call it, we clergy folk. We “serve” congregations. We listen to the needs of our people and we care for them. We bring them Good News from the pulpit. We serve them communion and remind them of God’s goodness, mercy, and grace. We pray for them. We show up at their bedside when they are in the hospital. We baptize babies. We bury the dead. Our time is often not our own. We serve our people 24/7.

It’s interesting that people who run for political office also call it “serving.” Public service. I have heard people say, “I serve at the pleasure of the President.” But you, sir, are the highest elected official who serves us: the citizens of the United States of America. You weren’t elected to take our taxes for your weekly golf trips. You weren’t elected to use the office to enrich your family and your private businesses. You weren’t elected to surround yourself with a gang of mobsters, many of whom are now in prison. As a public servant you were elected to discover the needs of the people and enact policies to protect and promote the rights of all individuals. You have failed.

Servant: a person who performs duties for others, especially a person employed in a house for domestic duties or as a personal attendant. A person employed in the service of a government. A devoted and helpful follower or supporter. A tireless servant of God.

(Isn’t that interesting? Clergy and politicians are both covered in this definition. So is every single soul who looks out for those in need.)

It’s almost Christmas. As a Christian, Christmas is what I celebrate. I also honor and respect the celebrations of other religions during the holiday season. There is enough room for all of us. There is enough room for all celebrations.

But for me, when I am led by God to serve a congregation, Christmas is a time to celebrate now, and also what is to come. Have you heard of Mary? Yes, THAT Mary. The mother of Jesus (I know you aren’t a church-going man. I’ll try to keep this simple)

Mary was a young girl, very young. Probably a little younger than Greta Thunberg.  
Mary was stopped one day by an angel. She was told that even though she wasn’t married, she was going to have a baby. Yep, she and God were going to have a baby. The Savior of the World baby. Being unmarried and pregnant should have gotten her stoned to death outside the city gates. That’s what happened to women.

Mary heard this angel news and set off to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth, also pregnant (and quite aged) gave Mary all the affirmation she needed. Mary’s baby was going to be someone special.

Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

A couple verses later she says, “…the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name…He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty…”

The thing about this remarkable Magnificat, is the tense. It is said in the past tense. As if it had already been accomplished. Not, “he will do,” but, “he has done.” The proud have already been scattered. The powerful have lost their thrones. The lowly have been uplifted. The hungry have been filled with good things. And the rich have been sent away.  

Little, unwed, pregnant Mary understood that the baby she would bear was the promised one. The one who would turn everything upside down and change the power structure of the world. He would also be a humble servant to all.
Perhaps Mary knew, as a lowly servant, that the things that buffer the rich and powerful must be removed so that the rich and powerful can finally see what life is really all about.

Servanthood. Uplifting the ones in need, feeding those who hunger, seeking those who are lost or least or different.

People like you Mr. President, have thrown us into the present tense and our future looks grim. You don’t give, you take.

You are being impeached. You deserve impeachment, removal from office, and imprisonment. You are a thief, a crook, and a dirty dealer. You have committed crimes against humanity, and innocent people have died in Syria and within our borders because of your reckless and sociopathic actions. You are trying to bully and bribe your way into stealing another election. Your followers have disconnected their brains and sensibilities and spend their time screaming and shouting as if the rest of us were deaf. We’re not. Your anger and hatred have spread like a deadly disease. You are the disease.

A majority of us are working as hard as we can to fix your cruelty. You won’t be removed from office because you have that rigged too. More bribes (or threats) to the Senators of your party. But we will vote you out. We will work through these dark days bringing light and hope and the past tense of all good things to those around us. Because we are servants. We put others before ourselves. We don’t judge people by skin color, religion, education, possessions, income or employment.

We see the God-ness in others.

Where is the God-ness in you, Mr. President? Where is your public servanthood?

We want to know.

Pastor Barb


Thursday, October 31, 2019

Cleansing


Cleansing
She puts sticky masks and lotions on my face.
Hot towels, cool mists, warm oil.
Facial cleansing.
My face wanders around in contaminants.
My face is exposed to pollutants.
My face needs to be cleansed.
Being a Dove soap kind of gal, this facial is
a thorough routing of daily dirt embedded
in my skin.
Facial cleansing.

The people far away were living life.
They had good days and bad days.
Now they just have bad days.
Someone said they are contaminants.
Someone said they are pollutants.
Someone said they are embedded dirt.
Someone said they must be scrubbed out.
They must be routed.
They must be cleansed away. Not with Dove soap.
With machine guns. With bombs. With chemical weapons.
Where is the Dove? Where is the soft touch?
Where is the gentleness? Where is justice? Where is equity?
Nowhere.
Racial cleansing.  

Kings, Queens, Emperors, Empresses.
They live in palaces.
We don’t have palaces in our country.
A long time ago, we fought a war to get rid of Monarchy.
The leader of our country lives in The White House.
It’s as close as we come to having a palace.
But in our White House there is dirt.
There is a polluter. There is a contaminator.
The leader of our country embeds dirt and filth.
He chokes the citizens with exhaustive lies.
He cheats on his wives, his taxes, and his country.
His followers will go over the cliff with him.
They will do this due to pride or ignorance.
He must be routed.
The White House must be cleansed. The White House must be renewed.
The dirt and corruption and abuse of humankind dirties us all.
Whether the sufferers are
immigrants from the south,
or Kurds in Syria,
or the poor of our own country.
Where is the Dove? Where is the soft touch?
Where is the gentleness? Where is justice? Where is equity?
Nowhere.
Not in the American Palace.
It is time for
Palatial cleansing.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Less than a Week Ago... (written on October 10, 2019)


Less than a week ago... (written October 10, 2019)

Less than a week ago, Kurdish Christians woke up in their homes, went to school, went shopping for groceries, consulted with their US counterparts on peace-keeping actions, ate dinner, played in the streets, watched the sunset.

Less than a week ago, they were in church. They sang, prayed, and freely worshiped.
There were weddings and baptisms all in the name of Jesus Christ. There were celebrations and laughter and security.

Less than a week ago, they were safe because we said they could count on us.

Less than a week ago, after an impetuous, uninformed, reckless phone call, they have lost everything. They are running for their lives, dying in the streets, and planning funerals for their dead. Their grief is complete. Their tears will not be dried.

Donald Trump is not only an illegitimate President, he continues to destroy lives on every level.
The innocent Kurds... Immigrants systematically tortured within our country... Gun Violence... The Opioid crisis... Climate Change... Unaffordable healthcare...

Fear. Pain. Death. Devastation.

Why? Where does the cruelty come from? Who are we as a country? We are enemies to the guiltless. We kill those who hope in us. 

Today I pray for the innocents in Syria. My sisters and brothers in Christ.

Less than a week ago... 

Monday, September 30, 2019

Dear Mr. President - September 2019


September 2019

Dear Mr. President,

It’s the last day of September and, WOW! What a month. It looks like you’re in a little bit of trouble. It also looks like you have put our nation at risk. Did you read your job description? 

There is more to learn about your illegal dealings. There are people with untold stories. There are laws you can’t slither out from under, although, you have slipped and slid like green slime for most of your life.  

Heads up: Whistleblowers aren't spies. Calling world leaders to interfere with our democracy and elections is against the law. Hiring thugs to work in the White House is dangerous. For you.  

The majority of us in America are cautiously watching. Some think this is a slam dunk for you to end up in the slammer. Some are afflicted with a chronic case of the giggles. Some are solemnly paying attention to the work of congress and hope the long-forgotten laws of the land are resuscitated.

I feel two things.

Grief. Relief.

Grief. In my many letters to you, I have written of the immigrants and refugees who have suffered under your cruel hatred, racism, and White Supremacy. I have grieved over your painful family separation policy, your caging of babies, and the sexual and physical abuse these precious people have endured by border patrol and ICE in the United States of America. Spirits and bodies have been destroyed.

Relief. Although it won’t happen soon enough, I believe you, Stephen Miller, ICE, and all those working on these vile policies will see justice for human rights violations. I live in the hope of the end of your evil, and that parents and children will be reunited. We owe them the opportunity we have offered all immigrants. "You are welcome here."

Grief. You have turned our country into a war zone. You have inspired mass shootings. Your words have been copied in manifestos by national terrorists who have killed so many innocents. You have given the NRA free reign, as have all the Republicans. I will always grieve the fact that guns kill people and our country is without strict gun control laws. Again, the majority of our country clamor for gun sense. There have been too many funerals of bodies where bullets have been lodged.

Relief. Although it won’t happen soon enough, gun control will happen. Sensible lawmakers who are against children being shot up in their classrooms will pass laws to protect us as a nation. We might even match other developed countries someday. Other countries are our example. We are not theirs.

Grief. Our world is burning and drowning. This beautiful earth is now a victim of humanity. We are killing our home. We will be homeless. Climate change is real. Only the most ignorant of people refuse to accept this. You, sir, are one of them. You have have rolled back protections for our home. People, animals, and plant life are gasping for life. You have put us at great risk.

Relief. Although it won’t happen soon enough, we have the chance to heal. We have hope to repair the harm we have done to our home. When you are gone, we will have sane politicians who will reinstate protections and controls. We will lead the world once again in slowing the warming of this beautiful earth. Until then, the majority of us will do all we can to lessen our footprint.

Grief. Your love of hatred and division have spread like a deadly disease. Families are torn apart. Friendships are broken. People are judged and condemned by skin color, the place they worship, or who they love. You have tried to take away Women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, Dreamers rights, and basic human rights. You incite violence. That’s your goal. Your minority of followers find hatred palatable. More than that, they crave hurting and debasing others. Stupidity and greed cause heartburn. You need a new diet.

Relief. Although it won’t happen soon enough, we have the chance to restore humanity to all human beings. No one is above another. No skin color is superior. No religion can be condemned. No one can be judged for who they love. The rich are not superior to the poor. The United States of America is big enough for us all.

There is so much more. But I’ve written enough. I feel one more thing:

Belief. As a woman of faith, I believe in a loving God. I believe there is more good than bad in the world. I believe that hate kills and love heals. Simple stuff. 

When we look for these simple things in the people around us, when we hear their stories, when we decide to see the God-ness in them, then we see what binds us together. 

My belief in God means I believe in how this is all going to end. It ends with a new beginning. It ends with the lowliest of us all having the best seats at the party. It means those who are puffed up with things like money, pride, and the fat of the land, will be serving the abused, the lost, the suffering, and the least of all. 

It’s a great story. It’s a little upside down, but that’s how it works. God shows up in the small hand of a child crying for her mother. God shows up in the person racked with anxiety and depression. God shows up in the transgender young man. God shows up in the doctor who still makes house calls. God shows up as the single mom at the food bank, choosing food for her five children. Personally, those are the ones I want to be around, because I want to be near God.

This was a mini sermon. No apologies from me.

Here’s to October. May your cruelty be deconstructed, and may kindness, mercy, and justice reign. 

Pastor Barb

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Dear Mr. President - August 2019


Dear Mr. President,

It’s August 2019.

August twelfth  will be the 30th  anniversary of the day my brother took his own life with a gun that should not have been sold to him. He was twenty-six when, wearing his best clothes, we laid him in the ground in a shiny, silver coffin.

This week, people in Dayton and El Paso are laying their loved ones in the ground. They are waking up every morning with the fresh realization of the senseless death of a mother, father, daughter, son, friend. It hits like a train. The grief takes their breath away. Tears flow and flow and flow.

They have now begun their year of “firsts.” The first holidays, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day…without their dear ones. It’s a slice of hell.

Gun deaths are not just violent and sudden, they leave family and friends asking “Why?” forever.

The “why” is YOU, even though you pretend you have nothing to do with the divisiveness of our country. Sadly, you are the President. When you speak, people listen. People who agree with your words, take you seriously. When you say people of color are “infestations” and dehumanize them in every way, your followers agree, and then go out and kill them.  

Racism is your oxygen. Bigotry is in your blood. White supremacy oozes out of you like pus, spreading the infection to those who live in ignorance, fear and hate. Then they take their guns and mow people down. You rejoice. Good TV ratings.

You didn’t create racism, but you spread it lavishly. You are absolutely responsible for the shooting deaths that have taken place since you came into office. You encourage white supremacists to wage violence and even death on people of color and those from other countries. Yes, Mitch McConnell and the GOP Senators refuse to pass any gun reform laws. They are complicit. You can order them to pass those laws, but you won’t. You are a coward.

People talk about your “rhetoric” which I don’t think you have. To speak rhetoric, you must have skill and understand compositional techniques. That, sir, is not you. 

No, you don’t speak rhetoric, you speak a crass, native language of malice.

You don’t need to have skill to speak vulgar hatred and cruelty.

Along with mass shootings, you have sent your ICE thugs to raid places where Latino people live and work. Your thugs intimidate, beat, and arrest mothers and fathers while children weep in the streets.

You destroy families.   

Because you are incapable of comforting our nation, and calm the violence running rampant in your followers, we who have morals and empathy are doing all we can to mitigate your violence.  

Like children taken from their parents we will cry and scream and raise our fists. Our fear and our pain will rack our bodies and leave us craving an escape from the loss and hopelessness.

And when the grief breaks for a moment, we will turn to one another and WE will give comfort. We will wrap our arms around the grieving ones. We will wipe away the tears flowing from exhausted eyes.

We see the humanness in these suffering ones. We see the God-ness in each one, because they are children of God. They are beloved by God. They are our brothers and sisters.

There are more people in this country who are kind and compassionate than the number of people who follow you. Yes, you have set fire to the haters, you have incited terror and murder.

Children weep. Parents have disappeared. Innocents are tortured.

Families are suffering. The dead, wearing their best clothes, are in their coffins and will be put into the ground.

It’s August 2019.

May God give us strength.

Pastor Barb