Naturally Grown Faith, Family, Farming

When Love Meets Dust: Reflections on Parkland FL and More

When Love Meets Dust: Reflections on Parkland FL and More

Yesterday, I was sitting at home, nursing the tail end of a bout with the flu when I got an e-mail from Alana Levandoski via Patreon about a new song she’d released in honor of the day. It was the first thing I’d seen/heard/read that did a nearly perfect job of combining two very disparate days –  Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14, 2018).

You couldn’t, in my opinion, get much more perfect than this song yesterday of all days, and I sat there reveling in it, broke my fast from social media to share it to my Twitter and Facebook friends and followers, and listened to it repeatedly. It was everything I was feeling, everything I’d been reading in the first 68 pages of Bishop Kenneth L. Carder’s “Living Our Beliefs”, everything I was studying in three devotionals (The Wesley Challenge by Chris Folmsbee, and two plans on youversion.com’s Bible App, Lysa TerKeurst’s Made to Crave and Our Daily Bread’s This Far By Faith). Affirmation after affirmation that when we let God’s love meet the dust that we are, we are better for it.

I knew there would be an Ash Wednesday service in my home church that evening that I couldn’t risk attending. The still not feeling 100% part of me breathed an audible sigh of relief, but the main part of my heart hurt.  As I explained in a previous post, this Lenten season is special for me … more one of a kind than ever before.  I longed to hear and participate in the service that would be taking place, to go forward with the rest of my church to receive the ash cross on my forehead, a tangible symbol that I was awake, aware, and actively participating in the journey.

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth.
Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence,
so that we may remember that only by your gracious gift
are we given everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

As Alana’s song played on my laptop, I went back to my reading and resting.

My daughter got home from school and running errands with my husband around 4:30, and it was about that same time that I noticed yet another school shooting in my newsfeed.  Since we don’t have cable TV at home, we had to wait for the regular news to find out what was going on.  It was during that broadcast that I first saw this image …

Undying sorrow.(AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
Undying sorrow. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

Phil George, a friend of mine from Illinois, wrote this about the photo today on Facebook:

“I started to cry when I saw this picture. When this mom got the ashes put on her head at church, she was reminded of her mortality- she shouldn’t have had to face the possible mortality of her kids or their friends.”

I think it was after reading his post that the anger reached a boiling point for me.  If it hadn’t been for the chapters I’d read just last night in Bishop Carder’s book, I’m not sure I would be able to see my way through this.

In Chapter 3 – The God Whose Life We Share, Bishop Carder had referenced a section of Elie Wiesel’s book, Night. He told of the prisoners in the camp being forced to march past the gallows where two men and an eight-year-old child were being hung. He explained that the child’s death was taking longer because his body was so small. As the prisoner’s stood there, forced to watch as the three were slowly dying, one of the prisoners asked, “Where is God?” and Wiesel thought to himself, “Where is He? Here He is – He is hanging here on this gallows…”

While it wouldn’t seem so and some may never accept it, I have no doubt that God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit were right there with every single child that was killed or injured, every parent and sibling and schoolmate that was left behind or left in terror, every first responder, every officer, every teacher, every nurse, doctor and orderly at every hospital.

My faith and what I’ve learned from it is that God was and is probably somewhere inside the nineteen-year-old shooter, too. The boy just wasn’t hearing Him.

But, as Bishop Carder points out later in Chapter 4 – Made In God’s Image, Wiesel or the other prisoner could as easily have added a second question and, to me, a far more important one, “Where is humanity?”

Another songwriter, Mark A. Miller, penned a song after the shooting.

This … is … not … NORMAL.  This cannot under any circumstances ever be allowed to become normal, nor to continue.

I know where God has not been during any of these school shootings.  Not God that I know.

God that I know is not in the heart or soul of Congress, of state legislatures, of county commissions or city councils that consistently refuse to do any more than send insincere prayers,  shallow thoughts, and unwanted flowers and whose gods are power, politics, and campaign donations. These men and women are where lust meets dust.

Don’t want your prayers,
Don’t need your thoughts,
You can keep your flowers,

Just answer me
Is it gonna be
Your “freedom lovin’ rights”, or my child’s life
Your gonna choose this day?
Your gonna choose this day.

God that I know is not in the heart or soul a single member of the NRA whose gods are guns and money. These men and women are where lust meets dust.

Eighteen school shootings this year,
And it’s only February.
How many promising lives cut short
Are you willing to bury?

Just answer me
Is it gonna be
Your “freedom lovin’ rights”, or my child’s life
Your gonna choose this day?
Your gonna choose this day.

God that I know is not in the heart or soul of those Christian leaders, celebrity or otherwise, who would rather advocate for packing a pistol to church, school, or work to protect yourselves from some fictitious demon hoard than to stand up and advocate AS CHRIST DID for turning swords into plowshares. These men and women are where lust meets dust.

So many broken hearts,
So many ended lives,
So many guns in our hands,
When will we realize?

So many broken hearts,
So many ended lives,
So much blood on our hands,
When will we realize?

Just answer me
Is it gonna be
Your “freedom lovin’ rights”, or our childs lives?
Your gotta choose this day.
Your gotta choose this day.

It is that last group with which I find the greatest fault. They have forsaken God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and worship at the feet of any politician who can give them whatever it is they think they want. They have given up the God of all creation who made all of us in His image to pursue a false creation and a false image that they can manipulate and control.

Today and always, God that I know is with the families of the boys and girls who will never wear a cap and gown, never play another game of ball, never sing another solo, never wear a prom dress or tuxedo, never walk down an aisle. God is, as Bishop Carder points out, in the suffering.

But where is humanity?

I can only speak for one human.  This human is going to stand up. This human is going to rise up.

This human is going to advocate for gun safety through organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety, through how I vote and for whom I vote.

This human is going to be pro- lives that are already here breathing, doing their best to survive, first and foremost.

This human is going to make sure that she is a living example of when love meets dust.

What are you going to do?

Full credit to Alana Levandoski for inspiring this message and its title, and to Mark A. Miller for the lyrics to Choose This Day. God bless them both.