Category Archives: Lament

Tongue


“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

    and those who love it will eat its fruits.” | Proverb 18.21

Calling all cats!

Get our tongues!

Only you can play with them.

Open your mouths and say, “Ahhh.”

Because if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Loose lips are dangerous.

Teeth hold steady

We cannot help hate, which always stands ready.

We must hold our tongues

 accountable

Every letter and every syllable

No tongues lashing

These are life and death words

Horror stories, the product of our characters

Tongue- swords, piercing flesh, dealing death

One word away from taking her last breath

This is no time to be talking out of both sides of your mouth.

You say what you mean.

You mean what you say.

Swear to me that you will use your tongue for love.

People are dying over our words, falling to never rise again.

Because of pride’s insurrection that burns our throats and makes our veins bulge.

Don’t let your lip slip.

Bite your tongue

Until it bleeds

 

Instead cry and say what you really mean.

Turn on your tongue.

Tell on your tongue.

Confess the sins of your tongue.

I must warn you.

It is unruly and not to be tamed.  Ask James.[1]

Still it is better than adding to this list of names:

Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon (husband of Bernice), Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, Irving Younger, Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones.

_____________________________

[1] See James 3.6-8, NRSV: “And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

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I am at a loss

Wind.jpeg
By Katie Fisher, 2016

I met an area rabbi for the first time this morning.  He shared his sacred space with me, his holy book with me.  We planned this meeting last week before the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg.  What a difference a week makes.

If God works in mysterious ways, then humans work in maddening ones.  I didn’t want to be brought together over this.  We share a smile but it is tinged with a familiar pain.  We share a hug but we are holding on for dear life, precious life, fleeting life.  Bagels with cream cheese and coffee are now mixed with incomprehensible sadness.  Lighthearted conversation impossible now.

What were we going to talk about?  What is there to say now?  I am at a loss.

Tonight, I will share in lament and mourning with my Jewish brothers and sisters.  I call upon you to share their grief as well because it is our grief as human beings.  Share their loss because it is our loss.  Cry out for us.  Bow your heads with us, for all of us now.

Another day, another tragedy: What do we say now?

Every day and in the United States in particular, we experience one deception, one violation, one scandal, one mass shooting, one assault on our collective reasoning, one attack on our decency after another.  Social media catches it all and acts more like a net, a web.  I can’t shake it though I want it off of me.  I am ensnared by what I read and see.  What I know often paralyzes me with fear or it sticks to me and I take it where ever I go.  “Be afraid.  Be very afraid.”

Tonight is no different.  I am sitting on my bed and wondering, “What do we say now?”  Reminded yet again of the world our words create, I am struggling to find them.  I know that I have them around here somewhere but I do not have the energy to look, the desire to try to give hope one more chance.

I want to say, “Things will get better” but it doesn’t sound right.  I need to say, “Be still my soul and know who your God is” as she paces frantically back and forth.  But, those words won’t come to me no matter how many times I ask them to.

And a cat does not have my tongue but I wouldn’t feel it if she did.  I think that I am numb.  Because I can’t keep feeling like this and survive.  I am slowly shutting down.

Mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg.  He wanted “to kill Jews,” the deadliest in U.S. history.  Two African American grandparents were killed at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky.  The shooter tried to enter a African American- led church before committing this heinous act.  Fourteen bombs sent to political leaders, a benefactor and a vocal Trump critic.  All in the same week.  What can I say?

The news is breaking me and it is taking me longer to piece my thoughts together these days.  It is harder to believe in our shared humanity when we are divided in these ways.  These words pile up and around me.  I am trying to clean up my act, to get my act together.  I sort through my letters, trying to form words that make sense– because this doesn’t make sense.

What are we saying about each other and to ourselves if this is the response?  White nationalism. Xenophobia.  Political Terrorism.  The world is not getting smaller but we are.  Despite the speed of our internet connections, we are shrinking, shirking our duty to love, to listen, to learn from each other.  Replaced with words like echo chamber.

But, I don’t want to hear this anymore.  I want to say something different so that I can see something different.  Because these words are not working for me.  This cannot continue to be our reality.  Another day, another tragedy, what do we say now?

Lament after Loss: Thinking about the victims of the mass shooting in Texas

Image result for candles in the darkOn Sunday, there was another church massacre.   This time in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  While I was inviting my congregation to pray for the victims of the latest terror attack in New York City, another was occurring.  Twenty- six people, many of them children, are among the dead.  The number of persons killed is made worse by the ages of the parishioners.  The youngest was an eighteen month old.

Was.  I am writing about an eighteen month old child in the past tense.  This is out of order, not the way life is suppose to go.  And there is another child even younger.  A pregnant mother was killed too and a baby dies before she/ he cries.  No baby shower, no balloons– only bullets.  More and more bullets.  Some say, we needed more bullets, good bullets to protect them.  But, I don’t want anymore bullets.

Hasn’t there been enough of them?  How many crime scenes can we view?  How many of these stories must we bear?  Is there no threshold?  Because there is no talk of this being the last time, that we have had enough of this.  Instead, there is planning for the next, steps to protect ourselves in the likely event of the next and next time, make sure you have a gun.  More bullets.

But, what about the bodies and the violence that they represent?  What about the loss of their lives?  What about their stories and the voices lost?  Gunned down.  And the response is, don’t put your guns down.  But, violence begets violence (cf. Matthew 26.52).  This is its only offspring.

And the bodies are piling up.  How can we claim to see straight or be able to see through to a solution?  Bullets all around, our only response is more guns.  The smoke will never clear this way.  We have entered the haze and the daze of violence.  I am crying in the midst of it all, head bowed and covered for fear of being shot.

Because we may be able to bury them in a week but not the grief.  Moving on from this is not resilience but a cover up.  We wear the mask that says, “We are fine.  We are strong.”  But, it keeps coming up, bubbling up, welling up.  Our fears are increased with each attack and it is harder to muffle the sound of our cries.  It takes longer to push down our repulsion and the revulsion of our soul.

This post is an invitation to cry, to enter into the grief of this moment and so many others like it.  This is an expression of sorrow after tragedy… when there is tragedy after tragedy… when the moment is filled with words that don’t help and helpless words.  This is a lament.

Because their deaths don’t make me want to buy a gun.  It makes me want to cry, cry loud and hard and long.  It makes me want to put on sackcloth and ashes.  I want to mourn now.

May their souls find the peace that we were not able to provide them here.  This is my prayer.  Amen.