Life + Culture

Psalms

square July 4 - #DelrawnSmall
July 5 - #AltonSterling
July 6 - #PhilandoCastile 
July 7 - #DallasPoliceShooting

Every day laid a thick new layer of grief, fear, frustration, avoidance, anger, each adding upon the many other incidents that came before them.

And after the final event, itself resting on a legacy of too many mass shootings and too many senseless deaths, was a deep sense of paralysis and despair.

Wanting to shut down. Knowing that we can't.
Feeling that there is nothing left to say, and yet convinced we must press on in saying it.

These feel like impossible times, with impossible solutions.
We know we cannot be silent. But what else can we say?
We want justice, we want safety, we want life. Can we not have these things?

And so once again, I find myself turning the book of Psalms.
It can be a challenging read. Though there are many beautiful and comforting chapters, there are also psalms of deep anger and anguish. Some verses that rail against God, and confront immense pain, even rage. Some speak of deep loss and mourning, and others of having no place in this world to hide in safety.

I've always had a hard time relating to these psalms. They felt distant and abstract. Perhaps even a bit irreverent. But I remember in the week after Michael Brown was killed, with all its pain, all its frustration, all its despair, all its fury, all its confusion. During that time, suddenly these psalms made a whole lot more sense to me.

And so this week again, we may turn to these psalms. Sometimes, simply to be reminded that these feelings have been put to pen before. That the hollow pit in our chests have indeed been given voice in the scriptures. They do not offer solutions, they do not bring resolution. But they offer the strength and solidarity of those that have come before:

Psalm 22 (excerpts)
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
    and by night, but find no rest...

But I am a worm, and not human;
    scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
    they make mouths at me, they shake their heads...

I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
    it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
    you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs are all around me;
    a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shriveled;
I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
they divide my clothes among themselves,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
    O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
    my life from the power of the dog!
   Save me from the mouth of the lion!...

For he did not despise or abhor
    the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
    but heard when I cried to him.

See also:
Psalm 6
Psalm 13
Psalm 31
Psalm 77

See also...the many things that have already been said:
Stay Informed: #Ferguson (Scroll to the great list of relevant articles)
Logical Fallacies: Black-on-Black Crime
Don't Habituate
Are You Willing to Die-In?
Michael Brown. Ferguson.
Emanuel AME: Is There No Sanctuary?
John Crawford: #WhatIsJustice
Jordan Davis (1995-2012)
Baltimore and The Unheard
Bias Matters: Trayvon Martin
#BlackLivesMatter Interview on Anabaptistly
...Read More.