Tisha B’Av is the day in the Jewish calendar when Jews remember the day the First and Second Temple fell (655 years apart, the same day). It has become the day that the deaths resulting from pogroms and Crusades and the Holocaust are remembered. To observe this day, many Jews read the Book of Lamentations, among other things.
I pondered this on the way home yesterday, read the entire Book of Lamentations and cried. Yes, cried. Between pondering and reading, here’s my take of what Lamentations might be written today (quotes are from the original Lamentations):
“My eyes are spent with weeping;
my stomach churns;
my bile is poured out on the ground…”
Anxiety twists a hard knot in my chest,
for we’ve lost our center,
spinning out to the polarized fringes,
convinced we’re right
and the Other is dead wrong,
and needs to pay for it,
so we use word-daggers to shame,
steel to silence.
God, aren’t you disgusted with us yet?
We deny You are Love,
we fail to see You in each other.
Will we not recognize your beloved
until we are nothing but dust that chokes?
Weeks ago I prayed for a fire in my bones,
and now I am drenched with weeping,
so drowned that no spark could catch,
because hatred is everywhere,
Why does my church
wrap itself up in its own little hurt?
Why do we plan festivals and fairs
when Christians are executed in Iraq?
when girls are kidnapped in Nigeria?
Where rockets fall upon two peoples
in a tiny corner of the Middle East?
Why do we not give a f$%*?
Why do we stand at a distance
And shake our heads and wag our fingers
As if we have no part to play in this?
Why oh why have we forsaken you, O Eternal?
We have even forgotten how to love.
How to grant dignity to a precious child,
to a woman who is poor, or
to a man whose skin color is different.
We don’t have to be extremists
to mark them as Other.
I despair that we will ever find a way out
of fear built upon hatred
built upon fear
built upon hatred
built upon fear of the Other.
Will this cycle of madness never end?
We kill each other,
Our souls are destroyed by our hatreds,
Our compasses are lost.
We breathe in shattered concrete,
block our ears to the wailing,
and we kill (or we don’t care)
and we justify that with:
they are the wrong faith
they are the wrong gender
they are the wrong color
they are the ones who hate
So we cannot live and let live,
We cannot intervene or save,
We cannot see a way other than death.
Yet with that response we fail to see
it is our own child we kill,
our own bones we break,
our own souls we crush.
How can we end this insanity, O Lord?
Will we ever be filled with your lovingkindness?
Will we ever act with your grace and unending mercy?
Will we ever know peace?
“But you, O Eternal, reign forever;
your throne endures to all generations.
Why have you forgotten us completely?
Why have you forsaken us these many days?
Restore us to yourself, O Eternal, that we may be restored;
renew our days as of old—
unless you have utterly rejected us,
and are angry with us beyond measure.”