Sometimes the world seems to dole out more than its fair share of pain. This week, we have watched as the death toll rises in Nepal, surpassing 5,000. As our Nepalese brothers and sisters sleep outside, for fear of aftershocks, wait for medical treatment, look for their loved ones and try to get a handle on what comes next, our hearts ache, but the distance sometimes creates a paralysis of action.
Following the funeral of 25 year-old Freddie Gray, who suffered a spinal cord injury while in police custody and died following failure of the police to acquire medical attention, our brothers and sisters in Christ, in Baltimore, protest, riot, keep vigil, hole-up and cleanup. We speculate, critique, pray, and ponder how there can be peace.
In the midst of the heaviness of this week, in light of our hope in God, and in search of a way to take action, Pastor Shelli offers these possibilities. Use them all, or pick and choose what feeds your spirit.
Reflect – Be still. Inhale and exhale, allowing the breath of God to fill you. Reflect upon the following pictures. Your thoughts do not have to be perfectly formulated. Allow your feelings, your hopes, your sadness, your questions to be heard by God in the quiet of your heart, or murmured aloud. When you feel yourself get distracted, inhale and exhale until your focus and sense of God’s presence in your prayer, returns.
Read – Psalm 130:1-6
Sing – Sing along to the following hymns, or read them as poetry/a contemporary psalm. To hear the music, click on the link that says, “MIDI.”
- A Hymn-Prayer for Nepal, Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
- O God, You Call for Justice, Carolyn Winfrey Gillett
- A Prayer for the People of Nepal, Rev. Dr. Laurie A Kraus, Coordinator, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance April 2015.
- A Prayer for Peace: Baltimore, Rev. Shelli Latham
Have a Conversation – Arrange to have a conversation with a someone you trust of a different race. It may be helpful to set some ground rules. Approach this as a learning opportunity, not a chance to say your peace. (Possible rules: Ask questions for clarification. Make sure you understand; ask back, “Did I hear you say . . . ?” Don’t invalidate your conversation partner’s experience; listen trusting that they’re speaking the truth as they know it, just as you will speak the truth as you know it.) Here are some possible questions to be asked and answered by both parties:
- When you were in school, who did you sit with? Where did kids/youth of other races, cliques, etc. sit? Why do you think that was?
- When is the first time you remember recognizing race? When is the first time you remember seeing racism?
- When is a time you have experienced discrimination based on your race? When is a time your race served as an advantage to you?
- What does it mean to you to be “colorblind”? Is that “colorblindness” helpful or hurtful?
- Have you ever experienced fear based upon your race or someone else’s? Is there anything you currently fear based upon your race or someone else’s?
- What’s the one thing you would most want me to understand about your experience of race? Your hopes, fears, dreams, doubts?
- Is there somewhere I should go, something I should do, see, or read to better understand your perspective?
- What’s the question you have for me and my experience of race?
Give – See opportunities for providing aid in Nepal, through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance here.