It’s been raining in West Virginia for days. So far in 2020, we’ve had 28 inches of rainfall. Our yearly average is 45 inches. The rain that nourishes our crops also causes mudslides, rock slides, road slippage and flooding creeks and rivers, causing death and isolation, as communities are cut off from each other, with no way in or out.
It’s also raining in my heart as I think of victims of the various pandemics facing the world. Some of these pandemics affect people daily (the pandemics of poverty, unequal access to and provision of health care, inequitable education and racially motivated police tactics resulting in the deaths of our Black and Brown sisters and brothers). The coronavirus is “new.” However, its effects fall disproportionately on people of color. This new pandemic does not rain down on all persons in equal measure.
The isolation required during this time of pandemic has caused us to become increasingly cut off from each other.
In pandemic times, when our lives are upended, when what we thought was certain no longer is, when we cannot depend on what we believed to be true, we are apt to lose our way. We become fearful and adopt a “fight or flight” attitude (too often choosing to fight). We lose our reference points, including our moral compass.
We are not unique. The pattern of obedience, sin, repentance, forgiveness, obedience, sin … is recorded in our Sacred Texts. This is the human condition relative to our Creator.
But, can we not break the cycle? Are we destined to murder our sisters and brothers, as related in the sacred story of Cain and Abel (Genesis chapter 4)? Can we not offer forgiveness, mercy and justice to all, regardless of skin color, ethnicity, faith (or no faith) tradition, gender identity and who we love? Can we not denounce all -isms, except those which build up all of creation?
West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry. At the heart of what we do, who we are is: Interfaith. Our vision is guided by our beliefs, our moral compass.
I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
In lay terms, G-d says, “Don’t come to me checking off all the things you’ve done that make you ‘good.’ I want to see justice and righteousness.”
G-d, speaking through the prophet Micah, was even more clear (Micah 6:8):
He [G-d] has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Decades earlier, the author of the book of Proverbs wrote (Proverbs 31:8-9):
Speak out for those who cannot speak,
for the rights of all the destitute.
Speak out, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
What will our rain be composed of? Harsh words, bullets, violence, discrimination?
Or will we let “ justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream?”