In the face of violence, obscene politicking, and all our seemingly insurmountable divisions, I propose no solutions. It is all above my pay grade. I cannot think a way out of any these disasters.
In the face of a world gone mad, for now, I can only be silent. I can only try to see with clear eyes. I can only try to listen.
Where can we turn when violence and vileness sprout like weeds all around us? To what can we cling?
We can practice Presence in the midst of pain. For me this is silence, this is Eucharist, this is prayer. I can kneel when despair overcomes me, pray when I am filled with anger, sing when uncertainty troubles my heart, and pour out my heart to God when it is full of love or hate.
We can experience, if we are willing, the gift of incarnation, of knowing the divine dwells in us and in all others. Us Catholics eat the broken body of God, ingest our intimate immediacy in our little ritual of interactive Incarnationality.
If we truly believe we are what we eat we can begin to delight in each eye that sparkles with the Beloved Son, Father, Spirit. Each mourning mother, each indignant father, each courageous daughter, each wayward son, reveals to us God’s limitless mercy and intimacy.
We can see our Christ in every-body torn by terror, by racism, by violence, by inhumanity, by inopportunity and the intersectionality of oppression. We can see our crucified God come to us from every margin. We can combat the heart-shrinking effects of fear by daring to see God in the Other.
To say the incarnation is everywhere is to wake up to the reality that the crucifixion is everywhere, and the crucified peoples call to us from their dehumanization, they tell us of our privilege and our blindness. What have we done for the least of these?
We can choose at each moment what we will manifest. We can become aware of the sacred reality of God, of the Oneness all around us, or we can step into hatred, fear, and bitterness. We can fight to feel the Presence even as fear and anger grip our minds and hearts.
To be open the Presence, to the silence through which God speaks, is the most urgent call in the face of shrill politicking. To allow ourselves sadness and mourning rather than succumb to blind hatred and bitterness. To allow our ourselves to be embodied in this river of life, and to honor all that is embodied around us.
To be faithful in the face of nothingness, in the face of absurd death, chaos and meaninglessness, this is the call. To take up the cross, embrace it even.
To say the crucifixion is everywhere is also to say the resurrection is everywhere, at least the seeds of it. Every empire falls, every tyrant dies, every solution built on violence backfires. In the space created by human failure is the generative power of liberation, of losing all we clung to so our hands can be open to something else. Or maybe someone else.
One ritual I’ve begun to practice is the reciting of the Angelus. At noon and six, my phone alarm goes off and reminds me to stop what I’m doing and celebrate the incarnation. The ritual is slowly seeping into me, as each day it is easier to see God all around me.
The Angelus reminds me, in the midst of the violence and terror of the 1st Century, that God chose to enter this world humbly, in a poor marginal peasant woman’s Yes. And she suffered and God suffered but nevertheless a spark was born that started a fire. And this fire of God’s presence can enter too into my life. God can become incarnate in me, and I can participate in the co-creation of God with Mary in Christ.
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with Thee;
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary, etc.
V. And the Word was made Flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, etc.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
God chose to invite us all, starting with Mary, into this divine dance. This wholehearted embrace of the world’s beauty and brokenness.God is still inviting us to dwell here, in this Place of Silence, Awareness, Understanding, and Empathy.
More bad news will come. More headlines will rip us from our place of peace.
But we can always return, always come back to our original innocence, always claim our divine birthright:
We are all created in the image and likeness of God, we are all the sparks of the Great Firework of creation. The universe unfolds chaotically, sporadically, beautifully, and we are invited to unfold ourselves along with it.
And the Word will be made flesh again, and dwell among us.