The weekend of two shootings in our country was a weekend of killer whales out at our fish camp. It was 10 pm, light as day, near the end of the day’s work on the fishing nets. A pod of 8 orcas appeared, a family, with two babies right beside their skiff. My kids and our crew watched their massive black and white bodies as they dipped and rose around their boat, enthralled. Then one of the orcas surfaced, spun and gulped down an unsuspecting sea otter in one crunch, right before them. A rainbow arched overhead. (No, there were no unicorns.)
That morning I watched a bald eagle snatch a salmon from the sea. Sometimes we see them scoop ducks from their innocent feeding, lifting them to their nests, plucking their feathers before they eat. I saw two orcas round the corner of our island below me, scanning for sea lions, otters, seals, any warm body to feed their own.
Two summers ago we boated past a sea lion rookery. One rock still flowed with blood, where an orca had nabbed a sea lion and sunk into the depths.
We are enmeshed in killing, all of us.
I don’t know what orcas or eagles think when they are killing. Or eagles when they impale a warm squirming bird and feed it to their young. But I’m certain they don’t kill out of hate or prejudice.
They are better than us this way.
Is our country unraveling? Fellow Countrymen have become enemies. Anger rules. Words are arrows, and when insults are not enough for rage, guns take their place. What kind of wisdom or solution can be spoken into this spiral? I have only cold comfort this morning, but comfort nonetheless.
I am immersed in the Psalms these days, each day writing out a Psalm in my own best hand, word for word. Letting its phrases, poetry, complaints, longings, laments and praises run through my body, through my fingers to the page. Here is what I know so far. The court and the nation of Israel three thousand years ago is little different than ours today. The King, the man on the throne was often under siege. Violence erupted constantly. His enemies lay in wait for him. The righteous were attacked and embattled.
It’s a story as old as humankind. Our human history runs a river of blood. How can we not, then, run out of sorrow and righteous indignation? Sometimes I’m just fresh out. But somehow King David never seemed to run out. He did not deny the harsh realities around him. He did not shrug his shoulders in resignation. He did not grow numb and cloister himself in a sanctuary. Nor did he mount his horse to kill his enemies. Instead, He did the two most powerful things possible: He took up his pen and his harp. And he fell on his face before God. Again and again.
He continued to long for righteousness. He prayed unceasingly against evil and worked toward the good. He cried tears of frustration and despair. He kept calling upon God’s righteousness. He continually praised and mourned and sang to God in every moment of need.
Then he ruled out of that deep God-formed sense of faith and justice.
We need rulers and officials like this. That’s one thing we can do:
Support and vote for those who seek the heart of God, who foster the Common Good, who unite people, who value and welcome All people, regardless of race, faith, gender, economic status, country of origin—— just as Jesus did.
One more thing we can do:
*Don’t despair of despair. Don’t grow weary of longing. Don’t give up mourning evil. These are signs of life. If we did not know the light, we would not see the dark. Others will grow weary of resisting evil. We cannot.
But we can’t carry this darkness or it will kill us. Carry it to our Lord, our King who alone can bear it.
And If you’re out of words, use the Psalmist's.
God gave him those words, because he knew we would need them too.
With love and prayers for us all,