Soul Wrenching

One day, I pray, in clear and clean windows, reflections of families at supper, not mouths open in fear…”

– The Rev. Mark Belletini, During Wartime, from Sonata for Voice and Silence (a UU meditation manual)

Another large scale horrific and brutal terrorist attack, this time by Hamas against Israel, with at least 1,200 killed.
Another war.
Basic regard for human life crushed.
If evil is “the willful violation of the vulnerable” (one definition), then we are seeing it play out again.
It is soul wrenching.

The events of this last week are just so devastating, introducing us again to so much suffering and death- including the intentional, violent targeting of civilians including elders, youth and innocent children. We know it will continue but for how long, we don’t. It is both disturbing and a needed relief to be re-grounded by going about one’s daily work and life, knowing that across the world people are terrified, mourning and dying, that hundreds- including U.S. citizens– have been violently killed or taken hostage, or are trapped in the Gaza Strip.

What can we do? We can give to international rescue organizations to reduce suffering anywhere possible. We can let friends know that our hearts are with them. We can gather in community to find connection and support, to put our faith into action, to teach our children ethical living, spiritual and emotional resilience. We can ground ourselves with our breath, or by walking on the earth, or by paying attention to people or things we love, or by tonglen practice- breathing in the wish to take away the suffering, breathing out the wish to send comfort to those in pain. We can do our best to reduce suffering, anywhere possible.

In his meditation, written in an earlier time about another war, Rev. Belletini continues:
“One day, I pray, in human hearts, a prayer of thanksgiving for a peace that has lasted a hundred years; not a truce, mind you, but an Era of Peace full and rich and just. May our children live to see such a world. O Love, may all children live.
What indeed can we do?
We can breathe. We can feel heartache.
We can breathe. We can remember the difference between what we can do before we have thought and what we can do after we have thought.
We can breathe. We can remember the ways our feelings can serve our mind.
We can breathe. We can refuse to sign our lives over into the service of panic or hand-wringing self-righteousness.
We can breathe. We can get clear on our most basic values.
We can breathe.  Blest are you, breath, for you are the spirit that sustains me in difficult days.”

If any of you have beloveds directly impacted by the events in Israel and the Gaza Strip, I hope you will let me know and let us know what support you need right now. We will embrace you as you mourn, rage, weep.

In faith,
Rev. Lee