A Prayer on September 11th

I sat down to write this morning before work, and this is what happened.

9/11/17

The date stops me. I planned on writing about something else.

Someone made up a story about who the enemy was and why bad things happen to us, and we directed all our fear into rage and vindictiveness.

“Tears are bullets when they harden,” a line from a Stanley Kunitz poem, turns out to be true (poets always knew).

We have committed the terrible crime of dehumanization. In our own hearts and minds, we have replaced the faces of our neighbors with the cartoonish ¬†masks of enemies. We project our worst fears on them because it’s easier to hate an imaginary enemy than to face ourselves. And we imagine enemies everywhere. And where we imagine them they become real, if only to us, the terrified and deluded.

Wake up.

Let’s pray for our own souls.

Lord save me from my own delusion. Teach me to sit my ego down and look it in the eye. Let me see my neighbor’s true face. I will be brave, and I will act with love. Let us heal this wound.

Amen.

When I was a child, they told us in Catholic school that the word “amen” meant, “I don’t understand, but I believe.”

I don’t understand how we will heal this wound, but I believe that we can and we must. There are 16-year-old children now who were born after 9/11. They have only known a world in which we are at war and are steeped in a culture that believes enemies are everywhere. How do we teach them not to live in fear? I don’t know, but I still believe in trying.

Amen.

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If You Are in Pain

fire_alarm_by_alrine21xe-d4u7i1k

Pain is utilitarian — an alarm.
Pain should be dispensed with when possible.
A fire alarm that goes off all the time isn’t much help when your house is on fire.
So much of our pain comes from our own grasping.
Pick something painful to let go of — an easy one.
There may be things you think you can never let go of.
That’s ok, you can hang on to them a little longer.
Holding on to pain sometimes feels like a consolation.
We protect our wounds.
But maybe you could let go of some dumb kid who teased you in middle school.
You could decide you’re no longer your insecure pre-teen self.
You have grown up, and you can forgive the ignorant child who hurt you.
Forgiving others may be the easiest way to relieve your own pain.
Forgiving yourself is harder, but powerful.
Let go of these things, and carve out space for joy.
It feels good not to hold so much all the time.
You’ll get braver.
You’ll work on the big stuff later.

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