Tag Archives: tears

After – Albuquerque 1996

1294519_10151934672121063_245716286_oAfter the prayers had been said
and the motions had been made;

after the rulings had been dispensed
and the speeches had been delivered;

after the instructions had been given
and the buttons had been pushed;

after the votes had been tallied
and the results announced;

after the passion
and the decent order;

after . . .
. . . the assembly sat in quiet contemplation,
pondering who had won
and who had lost,
considering what was gained
and what the cost.

My heart sundered the silence,
breaking, softly breaking,
for those, who by official action,
had been denied their full humanity,
and, whose gifts, but that same official action,
had been rejected.

A tear slid down my check,
coming to rest in tangled whiskers.
A single tear
shed for those beloved of God
who the vote would exclude
and for those
who out of fear
or prejudice
or lack of love
or for whatever reason
sought to shut doors –
and build walls –
and keep out –
and settle once and for all;
and in so doing
lost an opportunity
to join in
God’s amazing,
welcoming,
including,
affirming,
door-opening,
wall-smashing,
never-ending
love.

This was written after the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 208th General Assembly (1996). That assembly met in Albuquerque, New Mexico and took action to recommend a change the church’s constitution that would ban LGBTQ individuals from serving in ordained offices. I attended that assembly as an observer. As the United Methodist Church meets to wrestle with similar questions, I remembered this piece and choose to share it. 

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Filed under Current Events, Family, Friends, Human Rights, Poem, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Wednesday morning subway ride

Inconsolable,
the child’s sobs
rip through me,
shredding my heart,
each anguished cry
a reminder of
past failings.

4 June 2015
The Shire
Manhattan, New York

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Filed under Family, New York

Glory, Selma, tears

On Sunday, at the First Presbyterian Church of Far Rockaway, I quoted the song “Glory” by John Legend and Common from the movie Selma.

The young people of the congregation helped lead the service. Not too long after the sermon, the dance troupe provided a liturgical dance.

As the notes to their opening song sounded over the PA system, Darnell turned to me and said, “It’s your song. It’s ‘Glory’.”

The moment led me to the conclusion I had to see Selma. When my friend Hazel proposed tea; I counter proposed we go to the movie. She agreed. We did.

I do not offer a review here, simply three observations.

  • Selma is a powerful, profound movie about the struggle to end racism in the United States. Many of the issues addressed in the movie remain with us. Some have morphed. Some stay the same. We have work to do.
  • I have been to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. I was in Greensboro, Alabama to help rebuild the Rising Star Baptist Church. It had been burned in an arson fire. The rains came. Work stopped. We went to Selma to visit the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute. After viewing the exhibits, the group went to the bridge. Some walked quickly and easily on to the bridge. I paused for prayer and reflection before I joined them on that holy ground.
  • I wept as I viewed Selma. Several times. Interestingly enough, my tears did not come during the scenes of brutality and hate, racism and violence. Those moments made me wince and broke my heart. Painful as they were, they did not elicit tears. Tears came as I watched moments of unspeakable courage, unbreakable love, and astounding grace.

I give thanks for those who lived the story told in Selma. I give thanks for those who retold the story of Selma. I give thanks for those who give of themselves today to finish the work begun so long ago.

To those who worshiped at the First Presbyterian Church of Far Rockaway, I gave homework. Listen to “Glory.”

To anyone who has read this far, I give homework. If you have not done so, listen to “Glory” and go view Selma.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Antiracism, Movie, Music

Tonight I wept

There are places I remember all my life

Lennon and McCartney got that right.

But there are also people I remember. And moments.

Moments I will remember as long as memory lasts. Moments that not only fill my mind as memories. Moments that fill my soul and spirit as the sights, sounds, feelings wash over me as though the moment had never ended.

The births of my sons.

The death of my father.

The murders of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy.

The fall of the Berlin Wall.

The release of Nelson Mandela.

And more.

Tonight I wept as I relieved such a moment.

I finally watched Lee Daniels’ The Butler. I had not seen it in the theater, but I added it to my Netflix list and it arrived this week.

The film provides much to ponder. Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan? Seriously?

The scene that touched me came near the end.

Cecil Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker, has retired from his position as a butler at the White House. He has reconciled with his son, Louis, played by David Oyelowo. His wife, Gloria, played by Oprah Winfrey, has died.

Cecil and Louis are in his house on November 4, 2008. The votes in the Presidential election are being counted. As the moment nears when the media will declare a winner, Cecil calls his son to come to the living room and watch. Louis arrives in time to see history happen.

As the newscaster in the film announces  Barack Obama’s election as President of the United States of America, I found myself transported back to the night it happened. And I wept.

I wept in joy at Barack Obama’s victory. At progress made. At hopes realized. At the possibilities before us then and now.

I wept in sorrow at how much work remains to achieve racial justice. At the oppression, discrimination, and injustices my sisters and brothers endure.

I wept in frustration at shortcomings and failings of President Obama’s administration to meet the expectations of the moment. At potential unfulfilled.

Merdine T MorrisBut most of all, I wept remembering my friend Merdine T. Morris. Shortly after the media announced Barack Obama’s election, I called Merdine T. Together we laughed and cried and prayed.

The film scene transported me through space and time and as I heard again the joy and hope and pride and concern Merdine T. expressed that night.

Merdine T. recognized the historic significance of President Obama’s election. She also understood the arduous work that lay ahead for him and for our country as we continue to come to terms with the racism and other systems of oppression and discrimination dividing us. Merdine T. knew first-hand racism’s bitter sting and enduring power. She knew Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. personally as our mutual friend Carol reminded me. She knew hopes shattered and dreams, not only deferred, but devastated. She knew the tears that water and the blood that mark the road to justice.

But Merdine T. Morris never gave up. She held to faith. She held to hope. She held to love.

And so I wept tonight because Merdine T. and her husband Luke trusted me and were my friends, because Merdine T. and Luke welcomed me with grace, because Merdine T. and Luke accompany me in the Communion of Saints, because, to paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, writing about another unforgettable moment:
Her strength gives me strength
Her faith gives me faith
Her hope gives me hope
Her love gives me love

Tonight I wept in gratitude. And my tears were good.

See you along the Trail.

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Tears remain

Be careful.
Keep safe.
Don’t get into trouble.
If trouble comes looking for you . . .
run!

So they told him –
those who loved him,
who heard his first cries,
who held him at his birth,
those who would protect him
from a world in which children
die too soon
so often
that no tears remain to shed for them.
Be careful.
Keep safe.
Don’t get into trouble.
If trouble comes looking for you . . .
run!
He heard their words
and learned them well.
When gunshots
tore the silence
of the street where he played,
he ran.
For cover he ran;
for safety he ran;
for his very life he ran.
Following the sidewalk;
cutting through the grass;
leaping up the steps, he ran –
his heart racing
faster than his feet.
Sprinting across the porch;
throwing open the door;
stumbling through the doorstep, he ran –
entering what should have been the safety
of his own home.
Filled with fear
and their words, he ran still –
his fingers touched the bannister
as he began to mount the stairs
that led to his room,
the wall beside him exploded –
a chunk of hot lead
ripping through vinyl siding,
spraying drywall,
violating his body,
tearing life from him.
Be careful.
Keep safe.
Don’t get into trouble.
If trouble comes looking for you . . .
run!
So they told him –
those who loved him,
who heard his final gasps,
who held him as his lifeblood pooled around him
those who tried, but could not protect him
from a world in which children
die too soon
so often
yet still tears remain to shed for them. 

15 August 2001
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

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Filed under Cleveland Heights, Poem

So simple, so profound

“Sit with us,” they asked.
I sat. I sit.
So simple, so profound.

“Listen to us,” they asked.
I listened. I listen.
So simple, so profound.

“Grieve with us,” they asked.
I grieved. I grieve.
So simple, so profound.

“Weep with us,” they asked.
I wept. I weep.
“So simple, so profound.

“Remember us,” they asked.
I remember. I remembered.
So simple, so profound.

“Stand with us, they asked.
I stood. I will stand.
So simple, so profound.

Everything they asked
I did, I will do.
So simple, so profound.

Yet as I did, I wondered.
As I do, I wonder still.
Is it enough?

15 September 2012
Shire on the Hudson

 

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Filed under Human Rights, New York, Poem

Comfort comes

Slowly
comfort
comes.

Comfort comes in hearing the guitar wail
and
comfort comes in watching the river flow.

Slowly
comfort
comes.

Comfort comes in shedding tears
and
comfort comes in consuming chocolate.

Slowly
comfort
comes.

Comfort comes in talking with friends
and
comfort comes in having work to do.

Slowly
comfort
comes.

Slowly
comfort
comes.

6-7 July 2012
Pittsburgh and Cleveland Heights

 

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Filed under Food, Friends, Music, Poem