I slept fitfully last night–long periods of wakefulness, followed by nightmares. Migrant children, forcefully separated from their loved ones…tiny, tear-soaked prisoners of an agency that dumps them like stock goods in an abandoned Walmart, or shuttles them to tent shelters in the Texas desert.
I toss and turn. My God, what have we become?
My mind churns: Oh God, what can I do to help them?
I’m thinking this morning (as I gulp down yet another cup of coffee) that it’s time to flip the tables, and to throw the money changers out of the temple. And by that I mean: call to account the spiritual leaders who helped usher an undisciplined, unprincipled candidate into the Oval Office, and then turned a blind eye to his transgressions.
He’s an “imperfect vessel,” they say, chosen by God for a special purpose.
To that I say, “Aren’t we all?”
We strive every day to reach our highest potential, and to love one another. Most of us, but not all.
We are taking on the shape of this imperfect vessel, to the point where I hardly recognize our country any more. Armed guards are ripping newborn babies from their mothers’ breasts. No way can I stand idle! I hear the piercing screams of toddlers, pried loose from their fathers’ necks. Who could turn a deaf ear to those anguished cries? Innocent faces, framed by metal fences. School-aged children in crowded holding pens, sleeping on cold cement under thin mylar blankets. When I fall into bed at night, I am haunted by these pictures.
Seared into my mind’s eye, the image of a brown-haired girl with hopeful eyes. She’s one of 2,000 children who crossed our southern border since February–a quest for freedom, cut short by her incarceration. I am buoyed by her resilience, seek allies in this fight. Hashtag: Resist!
This isn’t just a political skirmish. It’s a battle for the soul of our nation. We must rise, all of us, and heed this call to our better angels.
Of all people, you might expect our spiritual leaders to be on the front lines, fighting to overturn this new policy. But the pushback from the pulpit has been weak, at best. I saw glimmers of hope toward the end of last week. Throat-clearing, at first, because they’ve kept quiet for so long. The roll-out was slow and muted: polite tweets, mostly, and gentle admonishments. Then came the letters–carefully crafted missives on fancy stationery, co-signed by spiritual leaders of all denominations. In words, if not deeds, they finally took this administration to task.
Not a full-throated protest, mind you. Just a light sprinkling, in an otherwise arid desert. Late in coming, and not enough. Even the strongest warriors have grown weary. We are hungry for change, but our voices are thin and raspy. Must be from all this crying in the wilderness. We are battling the forces of evil, it seems, and our spiritual leaders have gone AWOL.
It’s time to flip those tables.
And by that, I mean we must minister to our own ministers– each of us within the walls of our own sanctuaries, synagogues and churches. “Be a light against the dark,” let’s tell them, “Be a stronger advocate for those innocent children!” We must get them to break their silence, too easily translated as complicity. Blessed are the peacemakers, and the merciful, who march willingly into battle, when necessary.
If they balk, we might need to come at them from a different angle. Maybe, just maybe, we should throw them out of the temple–metaphorically speaking.
Return those collection plates empty. Keep your love offerings in your pocket. Send your money, instead, to the agencies that are actually “praying with their feet.”
“NOT ONE MORE DIME,” let’s say, “Until you publicly rebuke each and every elected official who stands behind the administration’s egregious policies!”
“NOT A DOLLAR MORE,” let’s say, “Until you pull your sleepy congregations into wakefulness, link arms with other spiritual leaders, and march yourselves to the Capitol steps, carrying picket signs and bullhorns.”
Think of it as wick-trimming, which renews old candles and encourages them to shine even brighter.
Equal justice under the law. Loving our neighbors as ourselves. These are things on which we must stand united, no matter our political leanings or spiritual persuasions.
“This will not stand,” let’s say. “Not in our name, or in the name of all that’s holy.”
If money’s the currency of change, so be it. We’ll vote with our wallets. And come November, we’ll be the first ones at the polling place to mark our ballots. Because Lord have mercy, change has gotta come.