My friend, colleague, and pastor Sam of MCC Toronto asked me to submit something for a prayer service about the Orlando Pulse mass shooting. After turning her request over for many hours, and admitting that I didn’t feel adequate, this is what bubbled up over about a fifteen-minute period, this early morning, well after midnight.
Where are the words?
in some eyes and hearts
less than the image and likeness of God,
less than fully human?
Where are the words?
Where are the best words to express, Word of God,
all the love and pain we feel,
all the lost sleep,
all the numbness and anger and tears,
all the memories of when
words from Scripture and the mouths of friends
and family felt like bullets ripping through us?
Where are the words?
Where are the strong words to shout, Giver of Life,
that we still hope in you,
that we will choose to forgive,
that we will not stop working for your justice
until every human being knows the flame of your love
over their heads,
until the principalities of homophobia and transphobia and racism and religious xenophobia
know their defeat,
until the idolatry of “the right to bear arms” is smashed
in favour of the Divine image in every life,
the flourishing of our communities and peoples?
These feeble words are not enough,
and yet you hear us.
So, in your many names and in the name of Jesus,
we choose, for a moment, your silence of solidarity with us,
and the Love you are always speaking.
They wanted to ask you, “Who are you?”
But they knew it was you:
all “Body 2.0” in a “Body 1.0” world.
My inner child, the one who loves you the most, says:
I want a turn!
Teach the rest of me to trust you more,
because Hope sometimes feels
like an explosive
strapped to my chest.
I thank you for your weirdo, my brother, Todd White.
He says that “to believe” means “to be convinced completely.”
He wants his life to be so saturated with the Gospel
that even when he is squeezed by life, You come out.
He heals the sick with you, Jesus. You would know
better than I would!
He says, So much media is full of things that Jesus
paid a price for, to heal.
Yet we are willing to feed them into our minds,
to establish mindsets that control our thinking.
Why would I feed anything in, he asks,
that doesn’t feed my desire for the Kingdom of God?
I want to be an academic.
I want to be someone who can discern Your grace and favour
in the broken places, who can see
the Kingdom shoots of green and purple
amid the muck and steel and concrete that everyone
thinks stops growth and life and peace.
But there is something in my soul that responds to Todd’s question,
Jesus, and wonders if it is, as he says, a key and not a rule,
a narrow gate into your incredible spaciousness.
So, Lord, I pray this way, in public,
knowing that your people are watching, and even
some people who might consider themselves your enemy,
because I want you to show me how to only
feed my desire for Your Kingdom–the time and place
where your justice and peace kiss each other.
I wonder what only feeding the Kingdom mindset would mean in my life.
What would be the impact on my views (and viewing) of movies, of porn,
of news, of TV, of Facebook? Would I spend my money the same way? How
would my relationships shift? How would I inhabit time and space differently
than I do now? How would my writing (and what I write about) morph and unfold?
I can’t make you heal the sick with me, Jesus. But I want to, so bad!
I want to glow so bright and warm that diseases
of all kinds–body, soul, and spirit–have trouble
in me, or anyone else around me.
Renew in me an appreciation of your beauty,
a joy that’s not afraid to say, with a deep and flaming humour,
“I am in love with a Man!”
I fear that this will be much, much
harder, something much riskier, than I would like it to be.
And yet if Your will is findable, doable, and enjoyable,
Jesus, then: why so downcast, oh my soul? Why are your teeth
set on edge?
Make me willing, Lord, to give up everything,
even if I never heal the sick.
Wasting time with you–
inhabiting your spaciousness–
would be enough:
I just want to spend so much time
with you inside and wrapped around me
that I smell like You
everywhere I go.
I wouldn’t even have to say anything,
but people would just know:
He belongs to his Rabbi, the Lover.
Make me Your kind of weirdo, Jesus:
like my brother, Todd White.
I know, Lord, that something beautiful
is not always true,
and something true not always beautiful.
And yet –
something causes us to follow beauty,
hoping that we will find Truth,
something transcendent, perhaps
or something factual,
or something that will shake us
into seeing the world differently,
living more queerly;
for all its difference in the lives of different communities
and even genders or religions,
I still think there’s a thrill when we see beauty,
something that passes beyond the merely subjective
does not reduce to the numbers.
In search of that beauty,
wise ones, weirdos with their heads not screwed on quite straight,
came searching for you,
and found you,
and gifted you.
Cause me, like your mother,
to store up these things
and ponder them in my heart.
I am beside myself, barely able to speak.
This morning–like all my mornings–
I awoke with joy.
And this morning–like many mornings–
I was also happy.