by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter November 1, 2018

Last week a gunman entered the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. He shouted hateful rhetoric and killed worshipers in a 20-minute attack.

The world seems broken beyond repair. It’s enough to make you want to despair and disengage and not even try. The regularity of events like this desensitize us to the horror and seems to normalize their occurrence.

I can hear that kind of resignation in Jan Richardson’s “Blessing When The World Is Ending", but I also hear defiant hope.

Look, the world
s always ending

the sun has come
crashing down.

it has gone
completely dark.

it has ended
with the gun,
the knife,
the fist.

it has ended
with the slammed door,
the shattered hope.

it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone,
the television,
the hospital room.

it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
your heart.

But, listen,
this blessing means
to be anything
but morose.
It has not come
to cause despair.

It is simply here
because there is nothing
a blessing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.

This blessing
will not fix you,
will not mend you,
will not give you
false comfort;
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.

It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
will come,
gathering itself
about you
as the world begins

—Jan Richardson

The world needs co-conspirators in this work of beginning again. Tikkun Olam is a concept in Judaism. It is the idea that everyone bears a responsibility not just for their own moral, spiritual, and material welfare, but also for the welfare of society at large.

This week you have an opportunity to bear witness that defiant hope. On Friday, Temple Beth Israel and Congregation Sha’arey Israel. This service of prayer and healing provides sacred space for us to lament the violence and show solidarity.

Join me there in showing support for a hurting community.