Tears of Joy and Sorrow: The Work Is Not Yet Done

In the beloved community I serve time is set aside on most Sundays for something called “Joys and Sorrows”.  Valued as a time in which to plum the depths of our hearts, to affirm the complexity of grief and of joy, desperation and celebration, it is a time encouraging recommitment to courageous compassion for others on this human journey.  And, recommitment to our responsibility as agents of hope and healing for one another.

This Sunday I cannot help but tell you that I feel conflicted about the immense JOY in my heart this day. I feel conflicted about the “elation” I feel as a result of Friday’s ruling to finally grant equal rights and to recognize same sex marriage in all 50 states; and from the ruling to uphold health care benefits; from the Pope’s exhortation to tend climate justice as a moral obligation; and, in response to the recognition by ever more people in the public arena that “symbols” of racism (such as confederate flags) promote racist ideologies and behaviors. That they uphold “institutionalized white supremacy” and have NO place within a just nation.

FINALLY we’re not “just” talking about these things.  Finally, it’s not “just US” talking about these things.  The tide is turning and, if ever there was a time for celebration, this is it!

Yes.  And. As I shed tears of joy, I cannot help but be drawn to the awareness that this is not the whole story. It’s not all that’s going on. Even in my joy, I can’t help but shed a different kind of tear today. Because WHILE so many of us celebrate these long-awaited joys, three black churches smolder – having been set on fire. I cannot help but feel conflicted about my joy today, because this week members of another church, another “beloved community” (known as Mother Emanuel), an African American community of faith, were lowered, untimely, into the cold ground.

Today, I can’t help but be drawn to those faces, to those lives, for whom the struggle to be RECOGNIZED as “fully human” continues. Why? Because of their gender identity or skin color, because of their lack of “interest” in marriage as an institution, or because of their earning capacity, or because of their citizenship status or because of poverty, because of the disenfranchisement and discrimination that is ceaselessly denied by those in power.

I am truly elated for those NOW legally affirmed in their humanity.  Haven’t smiled or hugged so many strangers, since I don’t know when. AND I grieve for those for whom the struggle to be recognized as “fully human” CONTINUES.

I tell myself it is essential to celebrate what HAS been won. Go ahead, I tell myself, let the tears of joy flow. Celebrate. And know that it is essential ALSO to remember those for whom such joy is, as yet, “deferred”.

Joy and sorrow are “interwoven” in my heart, today. And in the beating heart of this nation.

This is my prayer today:

May all sufferings be eased, and strengths be claimed. May our hearts be ever lifted, in gratitude and celebration for the great gift of love, in ALL its guises. And for the courage that enlivens all those among us and in all ages, who offer hope, healing and wholeness to a suffering humanity.

May our hearts be lifted in gratitude. Within us, may faith hope and love abide. And may the greatest of these: LOVE, shine through our every word and deed. For the wok is not yet done.

Black lives matter. Brown lives matter. Trans lives matter. Immigrant lives matter. The list of those WAITING to celebrate their own affirmed lives is long.

The work is not yet done. It is just beginning.

Amen.

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