Murdering People Who Pray

I am heart sick. Yet another shooting in a place of worship. Now each of the Judeo- Christian people of the Book have been picked off while they worshipped in their own way. Less than five months ago I was mourning the massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue. Today, I have written a new poem, but I am also including other poems I have written in the last thirteen months about mass shootings. But its unique this Sunday, to contemplate that there has been a massacre of worshipers now in a Christian church, a Jewish synagogue and two Moslim mosques.

I’m opening with some older poems, just to remind you.

 
Tree of Life

When God was allowed a wife
her name was Asherah.
She was the sacred tree of life –
root, branch, bud, leaf, flower,
the berry that had the seed,
the source of nature’s power.
 
When God was allowed a wife,
(before she was veiled and put into purdah)
no one would have dared or dreamed to take a life,
to even strike a blow against the sacred tree.
For she is the one who holds up the sky.
For she is the one who holds back tsunami sea.
 
When God was allowed a wife
just like prophets, or Krishna, or Buddha,
did we live with less strife?
Did we need to burn a holocaust,
to join human blood with timber?
When will this urge in us be exhausted?
 
When God was allowed a wife –
Praise be her name Asherah!-
She was axis and afterlife
She demanded no blood sacrifice.
She was root, branch, bud, leaf, flower, berry.
She was the Garden of Paradise.
 
When God was allowed a wife –
She had a name, Asherah –
we walked in Beauty. We loved life.
 
Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

The classic response to each new fresh hell of a massacre has been ‘our thoughts and prayers are with the families who are mourning.’ It’s become such a cliché it almost sounds like an insult. In spite of my pacifist leanings, if I was one among those families, I would punch any politician in the face who had the gall to say this and then vote down stricter gun legislation.

So last February I was writing this.

 
Thoughts and Prayers

Enough of thoughts
Enough of prayers
Enough of tears
 
Banish the fear
May Love disarm you
 
Enough of being bought
Enough of anger
Enough conspiracy jeers

Banish the fear
May Love disarm you
 
Enough of siege and SWAT
Enough of all coming to naught
Enough of the primacy of crackpot
Enough of the always all too sure shot
 
Banish the fear
May Love disarm you
 
Enough of cowering in closets
Enough of bandoliered bigots
Enough of ideology driven budgets
Enough of guts and gore as year-round climate
 
Banish your fear
May Love disarm you

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

Here I am again a little over a year later, on a Sunday, the Sabbath for Christians, the tradition I was reared in. And we are having to confront that yet another person reared in this religious tradition has taken guns and ammunition and mowed down people at prayer.

First, it was the congregation of the Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina. back in 2015. Certainly synagues and mosques were targetted for arson and attack since then, but this past five months has had the massacres of worshipers, people at prayer, first in a synague and now two mosques.

I want to stop having to write these kinds of poems. But staying silent in the face of evil is not an option. I disavow violent direct action. All I can offer are poems with the hope that hearts and minds will have the kind of metanoia where love, the agape of the New Testiment blossoms, celebrates and protects diversity in our world. That will let people live and worship the God or no God they wish as they please.

Murdering People Who Pray

They kneel.
They bow.
They sit and daven.

Some sing.
Some are silent.
Some are led

to follow a Book.,
to have words
to be read,

as they kneel,
as they bow,
while they sit

listening to
exigesis
on texts
about a deity

who might say:
why do you murder
all My People
while they pray?

Do you seek
to obliterate Deity
in human form
today?

Emmanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina,  USA June 17, 2015
Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA October 27, 2018
Masjid Al-Noor Mosque, Linwood Mosque, Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019
For all those massacred while they prayed

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

I saw a clip on YouTube last night from a favourite comedy, Derry Girls, set in Northern Ireland during the bad old days before the peace accord of the Belfast Treaty of 1998. In the clip there were Catholic and Protestant high school kids in a joint session being asked to list similarities and differences between tribes. (These are Christian sects after all.) The gag was that the board was chock a bloc with differences. The board with similarities was empty.

We need to address that deficit. It’s no laughing matter. People die because of it.

Featured Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash

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