Take This Sabbath Day

You know, you remind me of the man that lived by the river.

He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town, and that all of the residents should evacuate their homes. But the man said, “I am religious. I pray. God loves me, God will save me.” The waters rose up, a guy in a rowboat came along and he shouted, “Hey, hey you! You in there, the town is flooding let me take you to safety!” But the man shouted back, “I am religious. I pray. God loves me, God will save me.” A helicopter was hovering overhead, and a guy with a megaphone shouted, “Hey you down there, the town is flooding, let me drop this ladder and I’ll take you to safety!” But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him, and that God would take him to safety.

Well, the man drowned. And standing at the gates of St. Peter he demanded and audience with God. “Lord,” he said, “I’m a religious man, I pray, I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?” God said, “I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?”


A Sky Full of Ghosts

John: Father do you believe in ghosts?

William: Why, yes, my son.

John: You do? I would not have thought so.

William: Oh, no, not in the human kind of ghost. No not at all. But look up, my boy, and see a sky full of them.

John: The stars, father? I do not follow.

William: Every star is a sun as big, as bright as our own. Just imagine how far away from us you’d have to move the sun to make it appear as small and faint as a star.

The light from the stars travels very fast, faster than anything but not infinitely fast. It takes time for their light to reach us. For the nearest ones, it takes years. For others, centuries. Some stars are so far away, it takes eons for their light to get to Earth.

By the time the light from some stars gets here, they are already dead. For those stars, we see only their ghosts. We see their light, but their bodies perished long, long ago.



Good morning.

My prayers are with Ronnie Burke’s family today, I know yours are too. My prayers are with Officer Rafael Martinez and his family – they are not struggling with the loss of a child, but they are struggling with a terrible truth. My prayers are with those families, and with this one.

You know, I find myself on days like this casting about… for someone to blame. I blame the kid he stole a car. I blame the parents, why couldn’t they teach him better? I blame the cop, did he need to fire? I blame everyone I can think of and I am filled with rage.

And then I try and find compassion. Compassion for the people I blame. Compassion for the people I do not understand. Compassion. Doesn’t always work so well.

I remember as a young man listening on the radio to Dr. King in 1968, he asked of us compassion and we responded. Not necessarily because we felt it but because he… convinced us that if we could find compassion, if we could, express compassion, and if we could just pretend compassion, it would heal us, so much more than vengeance could.

And he was right, it did. But not enough.

What we’ve learned this week is that more compassion is required of us and an even greater effort is required of us. And we are all, I think, everyone of us, tired. We’re tired of understanding. We’re tired of waiting. We’re tired of trying to figure out why our children are not safe and why our efforts to make them safe seem to fail. We’re tired.

But, we must know that we have made some progress. And blame will only destroy it. Blame will breed more violence and we have had enough of that. Blame will not rid our streets of crime, and drugs, and fear and we have had enough of that. Blame will not strengthen our schools, or our families, or our workforce – blame will rob us of those things. And we have had enough of that.

And so I ask you today to dig down deep with me and find that compassion in your hearts. Because it will keep us on the road. And we will walk together, and work together. And slowly, slowly, too slowly, things will get better.

God bless you. God bless you, and God bless your children.