Prayer and other acts of defiance – in response to the bombings in Brussels

The news coming out of Brussels on Tuesday was heart wrenchingly familiar. For me it was a little surreal as I spent the day with clergy colleagues as we renewed our ordination vows together at a Chrism Eucharist in Waterville. It wasn’t until I was home in the evening that I had an inkling of the tragedy that unfolded in Brussels much earlier in the day. We took in the reports, the images and the interviews with heavy hearts and some intensity, leaning in to see and hear – as if knowledge would somehow translate into understanding and control. It won’t, it never does. There are no words, images or intelligence that can explain violence against innocents, destruction inflicted upon the human family. On Tuesday evening I went into the study to feed our kitten Joon, one of two we rescued this past fall. She is still tiny, even after a winter of hand feeding and worrying over this little creature whose flinching and fear describe a history of violence and fear in her earliest months of life. Though she can now eat on her own, some days I still have to spoon her food for her, as if on those days Joon needs the attention as much or more than the food. Tuesday was one of those days – and she insisted that I feed her, one slow mouthful at a time. I didn’t have time for this; I could hear the news reports bleeding through from the other room. I wanted to get back to the streaming images, didn’t she realize I was busy with more important things? That the world was shattering again? Deep breath, another spoonful… maybe all I can do in this moment is say some prayers for those who have been injured, for those who were killed and those who love them, for those who rushed toward the scene to help, for those who will be working into the night in response, for those who are afraid. Another spoonful, exhale. Maybe Joon knows more than she lets on, for this is better for me and the world than my obsessing in front of images I can do nothing about. This caring, this quiet moment of compassion is what my soul needs to be about – and in its own small way, an act of defiance against the terror and hatred that destroys. Acts that care, acts that build up, acts of mercy and grace for the well being of another – matter more than an angry tirade aimed at the TV, or my efforts to make sense of violence. So I invite you to say some prayers this week (I’ve put a few specific to these days of Holy Week below), and to engage in acts of compassion. Call a friend, give someone a hand, fill the bird feeders, be kind to an overworked retail employee, nothing is too small to matter when it comes to combatting hatred and fear. Even spoon feeding a kitten.