Tuesday, March 14, 2006

lenten journal: what you got?

There are days that drain you and days that fill you up.

I got filled up today.

I went back to our old stomping grounds in Winchester to speak to Touchstones, a group of women who gather each week to study, talk, and grow together. They asked me to come talk about my Lenten Journal: how it started, how I write, what it means to me. I took a stack of my favorite books and headed north. Even the Boston traffic cooperated today.

We gathered in a wonderful room on the second floor that has dark wood molding and big windows that look out over the woods and the pond and we started to talk. After I went through how the journal came to be and what it means to me now, I talked about the books and the writers who I count as friends because of the way their books speak to me. Then I asked the folks around the circle to name books that spoke to them. Talk of books led to music. One of the women mentioned David Wilcox and his song, “Show the Way.” She said she had used it in a youth group meeting and one of the adults there said, “Milton used to sing that song.”

I love that song. I think it should be our national anthem. Here’s the lyric:

You say you see no hope, you say you see no reason
We should dream that the world would ever change
You're saying love is foolish to believe
'Cause there'll always be some crazy with an Army or a Knife
To wake you from your day dream, put the fear back in your life.

Look, if someone wrote a play just to glorify
What's stronger than hate, would they not arrange the stage
To look as if the hero came too late he's almost in defeat
It's looking like the Evil side will win, so on the Edge
Of every seat, from the moment that the whole thing begins

It is love who makes the mortar
And it's love who stacked these stones
And it's love who made the stage here
Although it looks like we're alone
In this scene set in shadows
Like the night is here to stay
There is evil cast around us
But it's love that wrote the play...
For in this darkness love can show the way

So now the stage is set. Feel you own heart beating
In your chest. This life's not over yet.
so we get up on our feet and do our best. We play against the fear
We play against the reasons not to try
We're playing for the tears burning in the happy angel's eyes

It is love who makes the mortar
And it's love who stacked these stones
And it's love who made the stage here
Although it looks like we're alone
In this scene set in shadows
Like the night is here to stay
There is evil cast around us
But it's love that wrote the play...
For in this darkness love can show the way
I remember singing the song at a coffee house we had at Winchester, and I remember getting choked up while I was singing. I also remember singing it at the high school when we finished reading 1984; it was the best response I could think of. In this week when we mark the third anniversary of our invasion of Iraq, it’s time to sing it again.

As we talked around the circle, one woman spoke of the synchronicity in her life. What a great word, which I understand as meaningful coincidence. Here’s how it happened for me. It’s been a month since I wrote about what I had learned about the relationship between chocolate and child slavery. I’ve had ongoing conversations with folks around the issue and even talked about it at the church in Marshfield, which has started a conversation about what it would take to be a fair trade church. But I haven’t written the letters I wanted to write and one issue seems to get buried under the mountain of need and information that comes tumbling down everyday.

Last night at Bible Study in Hanover, we looked at Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. My version of his conversation with the disciples goes something like this:
“These people have been here all day and they haven’t eaten, “Jesus said. “We should feed them.”
“Right,” said the disciples. “Do we look like we have enough money to buy bread to feed everyone?”
“Well,” answered Jesus, “what you got?”
When everyone was served, they began talking about what to do with the leftovers. As I drove home, I thought about chocolate and world hunger and everything else and all I could hear was Jesus’ question: what you got?

This morning, I read an email from my friend Jack telling me about a documentary called Invisible Children that tells the story of the plight of Uganda’s children. I found a website working to stop the use of child soldiers, one working to establish an underground railroad for the women of Iraq, and I got email for The Night of 1000 Dinners, which is an anti-landmine emphasis.

All of them had something to do with what is happening to children in the world and all of them saw the best way to bring about change as starting around dinner tables in homes where people invite their friends for a meal, tell the story, and then ask, “What you got?”

I have a blog. What I’ve done is add another page, don’t eat alone: the possibilities so I can pass along what I am learning and provide links and resources for people to find the place they can offer what they’ve got.

The crazies with the knives are not going to get the last word.

The way the gospel writers tell stories, we have to fill in a lot of gaps. Matthew moves from the loaves and fishes to the leftovers without telling much of how the meal went down. There’s no indication the crowd rushed the kid with the lunch the way we see the refugees in the camps tear open the bags of food the helicopters drop. The food was passed hand to hand, person to person, until everyone was fed.

That’s the way it will happen this time, too.



Beth said...


Anonymous said...

I loved LOVED reading about grupos motivos yesterday and this was food to me as well. Wonderful synchronicity bloomed in my life after reading your garden show post ... I thought about my intention to write out the experience of my childhood, to shrink its power and clean the wounds, and I went to a file I wrote last summer to check the word count, to gauge what that kind of committment would look like. Almost unbelieveably -- exactly 1,000 words. It recalled my favorite line from "Leaves of Grass": "God drops letters to me in the street." That might be a good name for my projct, Letters in the Street.