My Prayer for Today

When I woke up this morning, my eyes, ears, mind, and heart were filled with stories of the tragedy in Las Vegas. The emotional flooding began . . .

-Sadness about the loss of 50 lives.
-Grief for the families and friends of each of those people.
-Fear about the unleashed hatred that confronts us daily.
-Gratitude for the quick response of  law enforcement, emergency personnel, and civilians who worked quickly at the scene.
-Appreciation for those who have already stepped up to give blood and help save lives.
-Disgust with the human condition and that the shooter’s anger/rage/fear/unknown was     big enough to visibly harm over 200 people, and non-visibly harm a band, and city, a         plethora a families, a state, a nation, and then some.
-Amazement at how quickly this news spread across the nation and to other nations.
-Exhaustion from listening to the internal voices asking “What can we do? What can we do? What can we do?”

Needless to say, I started thinking about how our world needs more empathy, more grace, more love.  What does that look like? How do I do that?

The news told of a young concert-goer who had witnessed M______ D_______ shouting, “You’re all going to die tonight” 45 minutes prior to the shooting. She was led out of the concert because she was disruptive.  This gave me pause.  Was this her last act of desperation? Could things have gone differently if someone had heard her? Obviously, someone heard her, as her quote can be found all over the news. What I mean is could things have gone differently if someone had actually listened to her? What if as she was being escorted out somebody asked “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

Could the shooter have been stopped? Minutes beforehand? Days beforehand? Weeks ago?  What if someone had really listened to him months ago and responded with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?” Could we have gotten help for him?

I understand that this cannot undo the damage that has been done. There’s been a lot of damage. Lives have been lost. We must grieve.  I’m just thinking that as I move forward, as I grow, as I try to love fearlessly, that maybe I need to listen more courageously.  Not ignoring. Not hoping someone else will deal with it.  Not writing it off because it’s not my problem, but fearlessly asking the questions. Listening.  People who are hurting do not usually do the most drastic thing first.  Acts of desperation come from smaller pain that escalates. Sometimes the signs are there beforehand.  Sometimes it’s just a whisper.  Ignored whispers become screams.  Ignored screams become acts of desperation. What would happen if I listen when people are indicating pain?

When someone is talking about depression, or suicide, can I make a difference if I were to respond with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

When someone is talking about anger, and wanting to inflict violence can I make a difference by responding with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

When a nation of people are demonstrating their pain, can I make a difference by responding with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

When someone is hinting about abuse/violence/neglect in their own home, can I make a difference by responding with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

Could I make a difference if I just listened?

Lord, help me to listen to others.  Help me to respond to other people’s hearts when it is early enough to hear, to understand, to help.  Help me to be brave enough to ask difficult questions, to be there for others, to respond and help before their pain becomes “too big.” Help me to listen to people when they are whispering for help so that they don’t have to scream for help.  Lord, help me to intercede and intervene (or at least just listen) before another person’s pain escalates into an act of desperation.

Lord, surround me with others who will also listen.  When I am struggling, let me be near another who will hear me.  When my pain becomes “too big” and I am on the path toward  a bad decision, self-harm, or any other act of desperation, place people in my life who love fearlessly. People who will ask tough questions. People who will listen.

Lord, help me to be brave. Hope and healing happen in the light.   Topics like shootings, domestic violence, suicide, substance abuse, racism, hatred, sexual assault, and fear must be talked about—in the Light. We can not heal if we turn our faces away from these things. Help me to courageously speak up for humanity.  More importantly, help me to LISTEN to humanity. Help me to listen and respond when it is just a whisper. Help me to listen and respond when I hear a scream. Help me to listen and respond before it becomes an act of desperation.

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Choking Humanity

Today’s news, quietly screaming the ugly truth,
We are a completely broken humanity.

Hatred, violence, and political pretense
Are prowlin’ about provokin’ humanity.

The “bliss” of ignorance has become our disgrace
We’re the kiss of poison oak in humanity.

Change will not come unless we humbly face the facts —
Primary facts — and get woke in humanity.

Can I, Julie, help turn this Ship of Fools around?
I’ll use voice — with an outspoken humanity.

NaPoWriMo.net (Day 14) “Today’s is an oldie-but-a-goody: the ghazal. The form was originally developed in Arabic and Persian poetry, but has become increasingly used in English, after being popularized by poets including Agha Shahid Ali. A ghazal is formed of couplets, each of which is its own complete statement. Both lined of the first couplet end with the same phrase or end-word, and that end-word is also repeated at the end of each couplet. If you’re really feeling inspired, you can also attempt to incorporate internal rhymes and a reference to your own name in the final couplet.”

This writing prompt — writing a ghazal — after today’s events is necessary, critical,  and Timely.

Forget Fearlessness (for Joanne)

 

I remember that you wanted
to be
fearless,
And I remember
How you seemed
Disappointed in yourself
That you were not as
Fearless
As you expected yourself
To be.

My friend, you are
Not fearless—
Never have been,
Never will.

I know that seems harsh,
But what I am
Trying to say
Is that

You
Are
More
Than
Fearless.

You see,
Fearless lacks fear.

Fearless
does
not see
or acknowledge fear.

At all.

Fearless does not care.

Fearless has no worries.

Fearless is
not concerned.

Fearless doesn’t grapple.

Fearless does
Not
Consider the
consequences.

Fearless does
not require
perseverance or
stamina.

Fearless does
not spend time
to evaluate
or reflect.

Fearless does
Not
Weigh the
Costs
And benefits.

Fearless is for an instant.

Fearless is empty.

You are
Not fearless.

You are brave
And courageous.

Courage is complete.

Courage takes commitment,
Knowing the risks
But acting on
Behalf
Of
others.

Courage is compassionate,
Considering the impact of
The actions,
the inactions,
and
the reactions.

Courage sees fear,
looks it straight in the eye,
Nods with acknowledgement,

And then does
what
Is right.

Courage worries—

Courage loses sleep
And agonizes
While sifting through
What is obvious
In order
To
Find
The truth.

Courage evaluates the options,
Weighing the costs
And benefits.

Courage thinks and reflects,
Constantly soul-searching
And searching souls.

Courage makes a
careful
and brave
decisions.

Courage stands

When it would be easier
To fight
Or to flee.

Courage takes time,
Perseverance,
And stamina.

You are not fearless,
but
you are
Brave
and courageous.

NaPoWriMo – Day 16

I am cheating.  Rather than writing a brand-new poem, which is what we are supposed to do during National Poetry Writing Month, I am posting a poem that I wrote nine months ago.  Some friends wrote a book with a similar theme, so I dug this out today.  Also, on Day 9, the NaPoWriMo was “to write a poem that includes a line that you’re afraid to write. ” That line exists in this poem.

Reverse poem in which I reflect on my thoughts

My fear
Is bigger than
God’s love for me
“I want to run away.”
I will never again say
“I am free.”
Or
“I can stay here and be okay.”
I believe
Vulnerability is terrifying.
I no longer think
I am lovable.
I will never be good enough.
It is not true that
I am strong.
I am damaged goods.
Nobody believes
There is joy available for me.
Sorrow is my only option.
I used to think
I am strong enough to let down my guard.
I now know that
“I am broken.”
I will no longer say
“I can be whole.”

Now read each line in reverse order.

“I can be whole.”

I will no longer say

“I am broken.”

I now know that

I am strong enough to let down my guard.

I used to think

Sorrow is my only option.

There is joy available for me.

Nobody believes

I am damaged goods.

I am strong.

It is not true that

I will never be good enough.

I am lovable.

I no longer think

Vulnerability is terrifying.

I believe

“I can stay here and be okay.”

Or

“I am free.”

I will never again say

“I want to run away.”

God’s love for me

Is bigger than

My fear