God, thank you for this terrible burning in our hearts, though it hurts.
Yesterday was Pentecost, today is the first day of Pride Month, and my country is on fire.
In the wake of yet more police brutality, particularly the murder of George Floyd, the embers of fury and grief that simmer nonstop in the hearts of Black folk ignited into full flame, sending them and those who stand with them into the streets to demand justice.
Others take to the holy work of sifting through the lies spread about these protests and broadcasting the truth; to the holy work of paying bail and taking cases pro-bono; to the holy work of supplying protestors with water and masks; to the holy work of educating ourselves and others.
Often have I thought this past week of Jeremiah’s cry, when he is tired of the backlash he faces for speaking a Word of God that no one wants to hear:
“I say, ‘I will not mention God
or speak in Their name anymore!’
But then God’s message becomes like a fire
burning in my heart, shut up in my bones.
I exhaust myself trying to hold it in
God, thank you for this terrible burning in our hearts, though it hurts. Thank you for your Disruptive Spirit, whirling across the world as a violent wind and as illuminating, cleansing flame.
And thank you, thank you that when the burning finally slows, your violent wind will grow gentle - you help us sweep up the debris and breathe comfort and courage into the wronged. You enfold Black persons in rest and love when they just can’t bear it anymore. You breathe life back into damaged earth and battered spirits and agonized communities. …But in the meantime:
When those of us who are white in particular grow tired of chanting and hearing “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” haunt us and hound us till we “SAY THEIR NAMES.”
When we are deceived into believing those in power over those who are oppressed, do not let us sleep soundly till we listen to the protestors, and pay attention to who is actually starting most of the violence, who is actually doing most of the looting and destruction.
When we say that rioting is an overblown response to murder after murder, to centuries of humiliation and exclusion and poverty, hail us with images of your prophets proclaiming that “violence and destruction are coming!” (Jer 20:8) and “Doom to you who turn justice into poison, and throw righteousness to the ground!” (Amos 5:7). Make Jesus’ words ring in our ears: “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!“ (Luke 12:49).
As we enter Pride Month, may those of us who are white recall that THE FIRST PRIDE WAS A RIOT against police brutality, that trans women of color led it, that we owe everything to queer BIPOC. Great and terrible Breath of God, breathe new life into our LGBT/queer community; stir it up so that we honor and protect our members of color, and concede our platforms to their voices.
May we remember that our liberations are tied up in each other: there can be no great Queer Liberation without Black Liberation, Indigenous Liberation, Immigrant Liberation - liberation for all peoples.