"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dust and Ashes

Today's picture is a tree on Palestinian land burned by Israeli settlers in Tel Rumeida in an act of blind hatred to force Palestinians from their ancient home. Imagine this Lent, what you might feel if strangers came onto your property and began burning trees that had been in your family for generations. Part of penance is awakening the imagination that leads to humanity. Let your humanity awaken this Lent as we pray for those our silence has made homeless.

"Creator God, the Parent of all people, we remember on this day of mourning all those suffering from injustice, war, and military occupation. We remember especially those living under military occupation in Palestine. We repent and mourn of the ways in which our government has participated in or complied with this occupation. May these ashes remind us of trees in Palestine that have become ashes – trees on Palestinian land that Israeli settlers have set on fire." - Christian Peacemaker Teams

We could be silent - we could simply surrender and conform - and everyone would approve. We could join in the mad rush to consume and everyone would say we had at last grown up, but instead "...the Word of God brings me insults and reproach all day long...But if I say: 'I won’t do it any more. I won’t even consider what you want, God, there’s just no point in starting trouble.' Your message of Truth, Nonviolence, Justice, Hope, Compassion for Mother Earth and all your creation burns like a fire, a
fire shut up in my bones. It’s wearing me out - I can’t keep it in anymore - I can’t ... shut out that voice in Ramah, weeping and great mourning. Rachel, crying for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more (Jer 31.15; Mt. 2.18)"

"Well, God, I still find You pretty clever. You might have pulled a fast one on me, but I rejoice in the meaningfulness You've given to those who take risks in a myriad variety of ways for the sake of a world renewed, where Rachel's tears will cease and
we'll hear Your sacred song: 'Your struggle is over. There is hope for your future.' Amen, (Jer. 31:16)."

The fast that many of us will choose this Lent comes from the words of another prophet, Isaiah, "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?"

How many of us have the strength to fast from injustice? From unloving acts that dehumanize those whom we oppose? To fast from outbursts of temper and impatience against those who love us?

Let the spotlight move off the drama at the center of our ego this Lent. For moments during the day, in prayer, let our attention wander to the suffering experienced by Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, to Iraqis living under U.S. occupation and let our hunger be felt in solidarity with those who have no choice.

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