Written by: Rachael Keefe

Too Much

Orlando Istanbul Dhaka Bagdhad Baton Rouge Falcon Heights Bullets, bombs, and hatred violate the sanctity of life every day because people hate each other. What can I say as I …

Too Much

Baton Rouge
Falcon Heights
Bullets, bombs, and hatred violate the sanctity of life
every day because
people hate each other.

What can I say as I stand at a homicide scene
in today’s early morning on a Minneapolis street
bearing witness to the pain of a sister, a wife, a daughter?
A few miles away a crowd gathers in protest
another Black life stolen by a police officer
for a missing tail light.
I would be there, too.
Kyrie eleison.

Alton Sterling
Philando Castile
Say their names
don’t try to justify their deaths
with criminal records.
Selling CDs and a missing tail light are not capital offenses
I wouldn’t be shot for either thing and neither would you
if your skin is white.
And if I were a passenger in a car pulled over
I wouldn’t be handcuffed as I watched my boyfriend die
with a police bullet in his heart
and my daughter cries in the back seat.
Because my skin is white, I am safe?
This. This is the true crime –
Black bodies lining our streets with blood
for no reason other than our own ignorance
Kyrie eleison.

Jesus told a parable to explain who our neighbors are
and we have not heard it in 2000 years of telling.
That one we label as other and cross the street to avoid
is more a neighbor than the priests and holy ones
who look the other way and hurry on by
to preserve their clean hands and pious ways.
That one, a Samaritan, the outcast and rejected one,
showed mercy and claimed his neighbor
because he knew what it meant to be dismissed
and couldn’t bear to leave another human being
bleeding in the dirt.
Such mercy for his neighbor!
And look what we have done.
Kyrie eleison.

Black lives matter.
Yes, it is that simple and if you don’t want to agree
Think on this:
You are someone’s Samaritan, and not the good kind.
Someone crosses the street to avoid seeing you even if your skin is white
Someone hates you enough to question your humanity and fail
to honor Christ in you because of some social construct,
some foolish perception based on ignorance that says you are less.
Kyriarchy is the law of the land –
even if you haven’t noticed –
it feeds the hungry systems of phobias and isms that threaten to dehumanize all
while sucking the life out of all those we “other.”
Kyrie eleison.

If we are all other to one another
can we not learn the lesson
show mercy
confess our sins
embody repentance
repair the breach
use our hands, our bodies, to stem this shameful tide of flowing blood?
Kyrie eleison.

The wails of grief echo through the streets
Protestors cry out for justice
The time for silence is long past
Apathy changes nothing while walking down the other side of the street
in the company of priests and Levites.
Who is my neighbor?
The one in need.
How am I to treat my neighbor?
Show mercy
not indifference
not empty words
not safe self-righteousness
show it
live it
do it
now before more blood flows.
Kyrie eleison.

RCL – Year C – Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Amos 7:7-17 with Psalm 82 or
Deuteronomy 30:9-14 with Psalm 25:1-10
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37

Photo: CC-BY-NC image by Erika Sanborne

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About Rachael Keefe

Rachael is an author, a pastor, a teacher, and a poet. Her latest book (The Lifesaving Church - Chalice Press) is on faith and suicide prevention. She is currently the pastor of Living Table UCC in Minneapolis, and has launched a spiritual direction practice.

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