I’m excited to “join hands” in prayer with two of my favorite poets: Chelle Wilson and Rachel Lee Haas.  Both women have captured their pain over division in the Body in stunning words and masterful imagery.  They have inspired me to imagine a future where we are fully known and unconditionally accepted. Where we speak hard truths with kind words.  Where we celebrate our differences and in so doing, we create this bright tapestry of color held tightly together by stitches fortified by the unbreakable love of Christ.  Today, join Rachel, Chelle, and me pray for God to meet us in our confusion and give us a vision of comfort. Today, I’m praying Matthew 11:28-30 for the mothers who stood beside the casket of their brown babies, confused angry, terrified, and forever changed: their babies were cut down, “while still green”, far, far, too soon.  People of our Great Comforter, today let’s rise up and pray for comfort for those who mourn:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Chelle is a new friend but I love her so much. She’s funny, smart, and profoundly insightful.

chelleChelle Wilson writes.

Chelle Wilson may not match your expectations. A Baptist preacher’s kid, she married an Anglican. Formerly an executive in the entertainment industry, she became a reluctant Stay- At-Home-Mom. She talks to God through liturgical dance and writing, all while fiercely guarding her privacy. She’s the girl clutching inherited pearls while tossing her dreadlocks. She is hymns, anthems, jazz vespers, and hip-hop Gospel. She blogs, tweets, and muses on Facebook. Chelle is the Director of Community Engagement and a writer for Circles of Faith and a columnist for Christ Centered Home Magazine. When you meet her, she talks all things Sando {her beloved Boxer} and will tell you that God’s got Jokes, which is one of the many ways she knows He Loves her.

It’s Not That Time…Elegy for Murdered Sons (part blues, part dirge) A Prayer by Chelle Wilson

Dear Lord,

They don’t lynch black boys anymore, at least not like they used to. Now they let them believe that they are proud, and beautiful, and free. I’m just a mama. Sybrina Fulton, Lucia McBath, and I all held brown boys beneath our hearts, carrying them as parts of us until the day they’d burst forth into the world. It was a time to weep and a time to laugh. A time of great promise in our lives and in our America where we never imagined that being mothers to young black men meant that we’d given life to a gravely endangered species. Lord, what time is this?

As you did with Your Only Begotten Son, we mothers gave our sons both roots and wings, holding our breath as they learned to fly. My sisters with names known and unknown never expected their young kings to take wing for the heavens so soon. There is a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted. Young Black Men are yet so green. Why is it so often their time?

How, Father, can we send our baby boys to eternal rest; saying goodbye rather than saying goodnight? No one warns you of the voids those partings will leave in your heart. Mothers should not bury their sons so early or so often, but this I know; “to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to be born and a time to die,” and yet we ask, yet we cry, is this THAT time?

2008, the year our son stood between his father, sister, and I in Washington, DC to hear the first President who looked like him take the Oath of Inauguration, the Children’s Defense Fund reported a firearm death rate for black boys ages 15 to 19 more than four times higher than for comparable Whites. Lord God, what time is this?

It is said that love, endless and relentless, redeems all wrong. Just how much time does that take? How long, oh Lord, how long?

Jill Scott, in My Petition, laments in my ear about an America gone horribly wrong, saying…

You say you mean good for me

But you don’t do it

You say you have a plan but you just don’t go thru with it

You say you know the way to go

And I should follow

But all of your empty promises

Leave me hollow

And oh

How do I trust you

How do I love you

When you

Lie to me repeatedly

And oh

How do I have faith, in you

When you just don’t come thru

Like you say you could

Oh, say can you see…

Lord, we cry out to you knowing You’re all we’ve got. We seek Your Face because the pain we share is a pain not to be borne alone. It is too sharp, it is too searing. It makes us afraid to give life and afraid to nurture hope.

And yet in You we place our trust. In tribute to the memory of too many slain young princes is our pledge to lift our voices to the cause of Justice; raise our prayers to You and stand with those that mourn. This, Lord, we know, though there is a time to mourn, a time to dance will come.

Father, grant us mercy. Hear a mother’s prayer.


Next up is one of my Story Sisters, Rachel Lee Hass.

rachelRachel Haas is a novel-writing, coffee-consuming, paint-flinging, wild-at-heart Jesus craver. She is married to Jonathon, as she has been for the past four years, and is mother to Marian.  She dwells in between Midwestern cornfields where she pours her heart out in lowercase abandon. She blogs at Dramatic Elegance.

A Prayers of the People

oh Mighty King,

step down and see.

oh Creator of all,

reach down and hold.

oh Daddy,

help us.

we are living in a land of divide, of lines drawn in the sand to keep the colours from blending together when they bleed, except when a boy of darker colour is bleeding on the pavement from a bullet fired from pale-coloured hands. and that’s when it merges into shades of grey fog, and there’s so much staggering, and so much confusion. and there’s so much weeping, Jesus. there’s so much weeping.

because there’s hands up, clenched fists pounding against walls that should have been knocked down  years ago, that should have never been raised at all. we’re shuffling back into iron chains that You bled Yourself dry to corrode into flakes of rust.

move in me, Spirit of the Living God. breathe understanding in this world of upside-down and backward spinning. reach down within and tear off the scales from eyes that cannot see the privilege, that sit comfortably surrounded by comfort, quick to comment to Your state of colour-blindness when they cannot even bring their eyes up to meet Yours.

but, Papa God, I don’t think You’re colour-blind. You didn’t reach Your fingers into the paint and fling dark skin at some and light skin at others and cross Your fingers, as though unsure of the outcome. You caress cheeks and fingers and tummies and feet with brown and peach, shades of glory instead of segregation at the forefront of Your mind.

if You were colour-blind, You would not see the red blood on the pavement. You would not see the  whites of eyes turned pink and weary with hours of weeping as mothers shovel dark brown earth over the babies their bodies bore that they will never cradle close again. You would not see the way the sky shines blue over courthouses while masses shuffle in and out and gavels bang and people scream.

oh Prince of Peace, breathe grace over this tumult. oh Comforter, hold the mothers of the victims of this war tender-close. there are bottles in Your Father’s house for tears, and there is no segregation between black and white there. there is only the line drawn between Light and darkness, between fragrant Love and rancid hate.

oh Mighty King,

step down and see.

oh Creator of all,

 reach down and hold.

oh Daddy,

 help us.

Aren’t they beautiful?  I’m so humbled by their courage to bear these honest, painful words with us today. In the comments today, I’m still going to be honey badger mama protective, :), but I’d love it if we offer words of encouragement to Sybrina Fulton (Trayvon’s mother), Lucia Mcbath (Jordan Davis’ mother) and many more grieving today when racism devalues black lives and violates the tender innocence of young black children. Our children live in fear far too early and wrestle with their worth far too often.  As redeemed sinners, guilty but pardon, as people who finds our identity in the selfless, all-consuming love of Christ, it’s our job to bestow value and protect innocence.  
See you back here tomorrow with two more of my friends as we stand our ground in prayer.