Sunday, June 21, 2009

we will be whole

Tonight I gathered on the beach with other women to take a moment at the summer solstice to praise God for the spring and the summer, for creation, for the rhythm of our lives as women, to praise God for the beauty and beg mercy for the pain.

The image I couldn't get out of my head was of a young migrant worker holding a baby, trying to get the child to nurse. But the baby won't eat because it is sick since its mother spent months working in fields sprayed with devastating pesticides and living in houses close to these fields. (Cherrie Moraga's play Heroes and Saints is a powerful statement about this reality.) I couldn't stop thinking of this young woman, and many more like her, and the spotless produce I buy for the price of their infants' wellbeing and even lives. I thought of the aching loveliness of life, and the aching agony of it, and babies' cancer-wracked bodies that someone in an office somewhere refers to by terms like "spatial racism" or the "geography of racism."

I thought about the sticky jeweled purple of the plum pie I baked yesterday, its tart-sweet nutmegginess and flaky crust. I stood yesterday making pie dough in the 90-degree kitchen, grating frozen butter to mix in with my flour. I relished the melt of the yellow butter, the feel of the words "sweet cream" in my mouth. I used the back of my hand to brush hair off my forehead in a move I'm sure millions of women have done throughout time, leaving that iconic slight trace of flour. I thought of the plum pie cooling on the table, and then cut and tumbled into white porcelain bowls, and its tang next to the smoky smooth of a dark cup of coffee. I thought of how simply thankful I was for this pie, the process of making it, the slow joy of eating it bite by bite.

And at the same time I thought of the laborers who pick the plums, and their babies, and their wages, and their sunburned skins. I thought of floods and droughts, famines, food surpluses left to rot because of that idol-god "the market." I tried to pray aloud, and I choked on my own words, and I felt the anger of helplessness, an anger I have been feeling a lot recently as I read books recounting histories of injustice and raise my eyes to look at the world around me.

When will we have the beauty without the pain? Especially, when will we have the beauty without someone else's pain?

And I thought of the cross.

The beauty will always be based on Someone Else's pain.

But not the pain of the migrant worker, or the sweatshop laborer, or the sex slave: because one day, the Messiah will make it right. Jesus Christ will redeem what he has promised to redeem. He will make us whole, and the whole earth that groans because of what we have done to it, and the whole population weeping because of what we have done to them -- we all together will be made whole.

What are we doing now in the name of that promise? Tonight, I stood in the wholeness of a circle of women praising God for the beauty and begging mercy for the pain.

I don't understand this economy of justice and grace. But here is a Psalm: may it convict us even as it gives us hope.

Psalm 10

1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
he is haughty and your laws are far from him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, "Nothing will shake me;
I'll always be happy and never have trouble."
7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent,
watching in secret for his victims.
9 He lies in wait like a lion in cover;
he lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, "God has forgotten;
he covers his face and never sees."
12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
"He won't call me to account"?
14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man;
call him to account for his wickedness
that would not be found out.
16 The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

1 comment:

  1. Hello
    I read this over at Emerging Women and thought I'd pop by...

    I'm also a recovering fundamentalist, a pastor (just left my position to finish my MDiv), and my husband and I are trying to wait (not very patiently) for what God has next.

    Oh yes. I'm also hating the hours my studies take from people I love...

    Anywho -
    Nice to read your stuff.

    of Unfinished Symphony