A Prayer of Lament

Day 22

Last night in our family Bible study we wrote prayers of lament, like in Psalm 13 (How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?) and Psalm 22 (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?).

Prayers of lament start out with protest, continue with petition, and end with some kind of praise, at least anticipated praise. Here is mine:

God are you here in your church?
Why does it not look like heaven?
Why have we distorted your Body so much?
When will we give up white supremacist
theology for the upside down
Realm of Jesus?
Have you abandoned your church?
Do you laugh or cry
about the mess we’ve made of it?

Can you just start over, God?
Re-transfuse the church with your blood,
and do whatever you have to
to make us serve the Jesus of the Bible,
not the “white” Jesus created
by enslavers and murderers.
I want your will to be done
on earth as it is in heaven,
but it is hard to believe it will happen.

I want to praise you
because I know you will fully come.
I do believe,
but help my unbelief.

An Epiphany for the U.S.A.

Wednesday’s coup attempt happened on the day of Epiphany, when Jesus, the Light of the world is made known. On this same Epiphany day, more white Americans had an epiphany–a sudden and powerful manifestation of the truth, power, and ugliness of our white supremacist foundation.

On an Instagram post about some antiracist books I had been reading, my cousin commented about racism and white supremacy, with these words: “The world has a lot of problems, but I feel like this particular problem [racism] is at the root of all others.

This was two years ago, and prior to her comment I had not considered the fact that it affected everything. Now, every time something else happens I think back to her comment and believe it even more. We saw it again yesterday.

The ridiculously unprepared police force at the U.S. Capitol and how these mostly white domestic terrorists were treated starkly contrasts with this summer’s police brutality against Black Lives Matter protestors (mostly black).

The only good thing we can say about the trump years is that we have had five years of the racism pot at a rolling boil, spilling and burning the whole country. The simmering under the surface had been harder to pay attention to.

Here’s another metaphor: Instead of living decade after decade in a country marked by general malaise about race relations, we have to acknowledge the five years we have lived with projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea. White people can’t ignore the symptoms anymore, can no longer say it’s just a stomach ache, suck it up. White supremacy has reared its ugly head and we have seen it.

Wednesday was Epiphany, the day in the Christian church when we celebrate the revelation, the unveiling to the world of Christ’s deity, the light of the world. It is the commemoration of the magi arriving to worship Jesus. Yes, they came from afar, fell down and worshipped, giving valuable gifts, all to Jesus, a toddler.

So perhaps it is fitting that the whole world received a divine epiphany on Wednesday, a sudden and powerful manifestation of the truth and power of our white supremacist foundation in the U.S. On Epiphany, at his rally trump supporters were encouraged to go to trial by combat and mob the U.S. Capitol. Later after the violence, looting, pillaging and desecration the mob was told by trump, “You are loved. You’re all very special.”

Thursday, a day late, I celebrated Epiphany and the Light of the world, Jesus. I decided to have an Epiphany tree for awhile. Today I am grateful that many white people may have received a clear epiphany for the first time. They have seen unquestionably that white supremacy affects everything and we must all work to dismantle it. May God give us strength to keep fighting.

I decided to have an Epiphany tree after taking down the Christmas tree.

Facing Challenge

What is the biggest challenge I am currently facing? 

I am not that far from retiring, but I don’t want to retire from everything. I want to make sure I don’t retire from seeking justice. I have spent too many years not fighting for justice. I don’t want to become an old woman. I want to be a vibrant, alive woman who speaks up against inequity, who demands changes in policing and politics, who goes to council meetings and expects members to mandate police wear body cameras, and more.

These phrases will become my mantras for my life. This is the start of the last chapter in my life where I become a better ancestor.

  • Silent no more
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Be not afraid
  • Be Antiracist
  • Be a better ancestor

The following image was the best thing I saw this week. It’s not about being either racist or not racist. Racism is in our roots and blood. Not everyone is guilty of horrifying and overt acts of racism, but we all positively live with the effects of it in our world. We can all point it out and help to dismantle it, making a new future.

Today is Wednesday, Day 127 in Bahrain’s coronavirus time, day 92 of The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad. Today’s prompt is by Ethan Zohn: “Write about the biggest challenge you’re currently facing. Now think of a series of words, phrases or even part of a quote that have helped get you through some tough moments. Use those words to compose a mantra of your own. Chant it to yourself whenever you need it.”

Mama, Did You Know?

Mama, did you know
When you held that baby
46 years ago?

You were there, Mama,
to hear him when he called.
He called you when he
was ready to be born.
He called out when
he skinned his knee.

How many times did you cry
over your black son,
knowing what his country
does to black bodies?

He called you during
times of trouble
Surely, there were cries
in the good times too–
When he was a stand out athlete.
When he got a college scholarship.
When he became a father.

Mama, did you see him
from the grave when
he had his unfinished
life snuffed out?
Did you hear his final
call on Memorial Day, 2020?

Today Jon Batiste shared a piece of music for meditation and asked us to consider how we are doing our part to “deepen our collective spiritual consciousness” and “begin to implement genuine and lasting change.” Here is Baptiste’s song “Meditations,” composed in collaboration with Cory Wong. Today is Sunday, Day 96 in Bahrain, day 61 of The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad.

To My Great Grandbaby

Dear sweet little baby joy,

There is nothing like a new baby to bring hope into the world. I know there are those who already loved you when you were barely a timorous, yet tickling and intoxicating thought in the minds of your parents.

Welcome to the world, my dear. I missed your birth, but I just wanted to say how much I would have loved you if I were still alive. Your grandma was my baby once upon a time, so I know the joy you have brought to your family.

First and foremost, I would like to apologize to you that I didn’t spend more of my life fighting to dismantle white supremacy.

After we had our first African American president, Barack Obama, a segment of our country rejoiced that we were becoming post-racial, whatever that meant. Another segment went into survival mode. The racists came out of hiding, raising up their repugnant heads. The powerful (who were powerful because they had white skin) were scared. They called it things like tea parties and conservatism instead of what it really was, fear of losing their ill-gotten and undeserved power.

There was only one silver lining in the debacle of the 46-1 presidency that you will read about in your history books. It made lots of people like me aware of the awful condition of our country–there is no such thing as post-racial. Racism is at the heart of everything wrong with our country. It is the foundation we are built on.

After hundreds of years of killing and displacing indigenous people and stealing, killing, and enslaving black people from Africa, we spent close to two more centuries clinging to white power, continuing to displace and kill people with abandon and impunity. But when that one was “elected,” I figured it would be temporary–I gave him less than 100 days.

But the country fell for the con.

Not really. The country was the con. The vile and vicious underbelly–the truth of systemic racism–was exposed in all its ugliness. It was flaunted and shouted from the mountaintops. People in power shoved their fingers into their ears and shouted lalalalalalalalalala to drown out the din of the circus in the Executive Branch and closed their eyes to pretend not to see the 40% of Americans embracing and celebrating the blatant racism he espoused. There were even whole media outlets committed to continuing the con.

Even though there was a very mentally ill man in the White House, the leaders would neither invoke the 25th Amendment nor would they remove him from office when he had been justly impeached. They had to pretend all was normal. Because if they didn’t, their power would collapse.

But you know the end of that story. The 46th president won by the largest landslide in the history of the country. She won all 50 states. The former president and most of his cronies spent years in prison, and at least blatant racism crawled back under the rock. However, not before a great majority finally acknowledged it, and finally became accomplices with our brothers and sisters of all colors to fight systemic racism.

Now, my sweet great grandbaby, you get to join this fight because, no matter how much we fight it, it’s still not gone completely. Don’t let your guard down. We have to keep up the fight for equal justice for all.

I love you and will watch you run your race with perseverance. I’ll be the one on my feet cheering you on from the grandstands (Hebrews 12:1).


Your Nana

P.S. I’m afraid this is much more difficult than I make it sound. People of color put up with the oppression of white people like me every single day. If it’s not 2050, and anyone is still reading this, I listened to a podcast today that helps white people know how to fight the right battles. Check it out here by Myisha T. Hill, Lettie Shumate and Weeze Doran.

Day 87 in Bahrain. This is Day 52 of The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad. Today’s prompt was written by Carvell Wallace.