April 2, 2012: “There is a spirit which I feel. . . “

. . . that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong.” James Nayler

Last week, the week “Bully” was released, there were moments when I believed bullies had taken over (I was also post-Brooklyn grandchildren-visit pooped and fighting a cold.). Daily headlines reinforced my gloom; I won’t list all the current and personal events that made me feel: “Yup. ‘Might Makes Right.’ wins.”

Two memories repeatedly popped up, one illustrating, the other reinforcing my depression:

Kim Harvie, the amazing minister of the Arlington Street Church (Unitarian-Universalist), had described an ecumenical service she and other Boston clergy had organized to commemorate 9-11’s tenth anniversary to me. It had been outdoors, she explained, to show that we’d survived, that we were not afraid.

But we are afraid, I mentally argued last week. And so much of what has happened in this country, from tank-like SUVs to the proliferation of security cameras to perpetuating our deeply broken, deeply unjust criminal justice system is exactly about how terrified we are. “They” won.

The other memory is something I heard years ago,  back in the day when I taught in homeless shelters in Somerville and Medford (for obvious reasons I’m not going to identify who said it). “Mr. Roger’s gay,” this person declared.”So I won’t let my son watch his show.”

See? I lamented last week. Even someone who’s experienced poverty, homelessness, victimized by the indifference and cruelty of “the system” believes that a gentle and kind man must be gay. (And, yes, I acknowledge that remembering this over and over is as much about my mental state as anything else!)

But something wonderful happened the moment I arrived at Cambridge Meeting yesterday; Palm Sunday. Being with that quirky faith community uplifted me. How sustaining to worship with others who read the same headlines I’d read last week—much of my heartbreak centers around Trayvon Martin, of course; that the Far Right succeeded in getting healthcare reform adjudicated by the Supreme Court worries me, too—but there they were. Showing up. Planning our Good Friday peace witness on Boston Common.

Because it was Palm Sunday my thoughts during worship centered on the early Quaker, James Nayler, and his ill-conceived donkey ride through the streets of Bristol, England in 1656, his devoted supporters waving palms and generally making a horrible situation much, much worse! (LOTS to say about that ride but actually not to the point of this posting.)  And then, in the quiet, a fireplace fire cheerfully crackling in FMC’s new glass-fronted fireplace, Nayler’s words on his death bed came to me. And I was again sustained and comforted to be with people who acknowledge both the creepy news and Good News. Who believe that war is not the answer. Who believe that we’re being called to heal a broken world.


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