Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Hunting Bears with Radiohead

Some of fearless ones are fanning out into the woods.  Others are huddled in smartly constructed camouflaged blinds.  These self styled eco-warriors brave the cold and the discomforts of inclement weather.  They keep a watchful eye over the stale remains of Dunkin Donuts, bagels and bacon grease they cleverly scattered outside their deadly bivouac.  These bold ones eagerly finger the barrels of their high powered rifles palming the smooth wooden stocks with warm naked hands.  They itch to squeeze the trigger but discipline and fortitude inform the vigilance of these sentinels of sustainability.  They philosophically muse about restorative balance and the paradox of killing in order to survive.  Another day has broken over the New Jersey Highlands.  The hunt for bear is on.  Let the mammalian cleansing begin.

 

Risk: bears, environment

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December 6, 2010 Posted by | death, ecological, environment, sustainability | , , , | Leave a comment

Marking Veterans Day

Veterans Day is marked today with solemnity, sadness and a renewed expectation that people will find a way to peacefully resolve conflict in a complex world.  Veterans Day serves as a reminder that the cost of war is measured in the sacrifice of human life, the tragedy of casualty and the broken hearts of family, lovers and friends of those wounded and lost in the struggle of deadly battle.

Veterans Day gives us reason to pause and consider the sacrifices of our country’s citizen soldiers.   America’s professional armed services personnel comprise a very small percentage of our citizens.  Yet the brave and select few are asked to shoulder a disproportional burden in the prosecution of our decade long wars.  In many respects the great majority of Americans are insulated from the cost and pain of war.  We go on with our day to day lives while at this very moment a soldier, sailor, airman or marine is walking post under the gray and uncertain clouds that shroud their theater of conflict. Veterans Day helps us to remember that war is real, ever present and remains closer then the names of the honored dead silently scrolled on this weeks honor roll.

Veterans Day is good day to remember the special needs of returning servicemen and women.  They have offered much in service to our country and we must be mindful of their special needs.  Jobs, education, social services, health-care, substance abuse, family counseling and suicide prevention are critical support programs this acutely at risk population dearly needs for their successful integration back  into society.  It is also important that we recognize and care for the emotional and psychological scars of returning warriors.  The  emotional wellness  of the returning veteran is critical to the restoration of their wholeness as a human being.  This takes time, patience, understanding and a good portion of unconditional love to heal the spiritual wounds of our beloved brothers and sisters.

Veterans Day is also a good day to remember that peace is a virtue and that there is no higher calling then its pursuit and preservation.  The wastefulness and abomination of war defiles our humanity and denigrates the Holy Spirit.  Today indeed is a good day to remember that peace is superior to war as life is to death, wholeness to woundedness and understanding to intractability.

We mark today’s Veterans Day with sadness, solemnity, gratefulness and a fervent expectation that the grace of  peace may be with us soon.

Selah

You Tube Music Video: When Johnny Comes Marching Home

Risk: war, peace, freedom

November 11, 2010 Posted by | armed services, death, military, peace, seasons, war | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Restoration

My heart aches each year as we approach Columbus Day because it marks the anniversary of the death of  a young man who my family and I deeply loved.  The young man’s parents are long standing and very close family friends.  We went to college together when their son was born.  He was the first child of our inner group and we witnessed and experienced the arc of his life from cradle to grave.  So it is together in sadness that we share the arrival of this unfortunate day.

When we are confronted with the death of our children we are compelled to search for reasons. In earnest we ask questions and adamantly seek answers from a seemingly remote God whose silence leaves us feeling abandoned and confused. We throw up our arms and shake our fists at an ambivalent cosmos that stares us down with an infinite blackness that mirrors the condition of our soul and the depth of our pain. Anniversaries bring us back to the terrible moment when we learned of our beloved’s passing and all the feelings of dread, violation and terrible pain of that moment are relived again.

I remember coming home on that terrible day. I was standing by the sliding glass doors looking out on a beautiful autumn day.  My wife was not home and I asked my daughter where she was.  My daughter answered that my wife went to Aunt Sharon’s house and at that very moment the phone rang. It was my wife who in a stream of tears delivered the news of our young friend’s death. I collapsed onto a seat that was fortunately open at my side. It was as if an invisible locomotive knocked the wind and an ability to stand right out of me.

This death was not the first family member or close friend of mine to have died but it was one of the most painful.  Our friend’s vitality, his exuberant youthfulness, quixotic smile and potent life force were central to his identity and qualities that made us feel that his living presence would always surround us. When that life was quelled we are shaken by the realization that youthfulness is not an immutable truth that protects anyone from death.

The next year two days after Christmas my nephew passed away after a lifelong battle against Leukemia. My nephew was only 16 at the time of his passing, but God and his family filled his life with the knowledge that he was deeply loved.  My nephew fought the disease courageously and faithfully since he was 5 years old. During his life he had three major occurrences of the disease and after the third occurrence the Lord saw fit to call his beloved son home.

My nephew’s parents relied heavily on their faith to carry them through his sicknesses and implored God to heal their son. They prayed incessantly and faithfully to have the Lord restore their son’s health. It was not to be.

We question what purpose is served by the death of children and how could a benevolent God fail to answer our fervent prayers and allow this to happen? Those left behind remain haunted by our loved ones painful absence. We question our ability and effectiveness as parents and the meaning and necessity of a continued walk in the graceful light of God’s sure and abundant love that seemingly has abandoned us.

I believe our best response to these terrible instances of life is to continue a practice of a prayerful and sacramental life. There are many types of prayers. We petition the Beneficent One for things, we ask for guidance and strength, we give thanks, we ask for insights, clarity of thought, peace for the soul, restoration, revelation, protection and help for loved ones, and hope for the sight to perceive the daily grace that abundantly lights the pathways of our daily lives.

If prayer articulates our intentions and desires a sacramental life communicates that intention with firm action by binding devote love in response to the needs and human frailty of others. This connection helps fill the vacuous void left by the death of beloved family members and friends. It is the way we affirm the living power of unconditional love and anoint ourselves and others with the restorative balm of God’s sure presence during times of devastating tragedy, keen want, pointed vulnerability and consuming fear. The presence of The Deliverer is the outstretched hand, listening ear and kind heart open and ready to give and accept love. This sacramental dance nurtures us, uplifts others and keeps the memory our dearly departed close and ever fresh in our minds and hearts. It empowers us to live and feel the love that we hold in our hearts for our children that have passed. It emboldens our spirit. It brings to life the vitality of our children that have gone before us and allows the gift of their life to be a life force and real presence in the life of others.

If we continue to ask God for something and it is not given we need to assess the larger context of our desires and gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to achieve them. Maybe its time to create new life strategies and seek to discover new pathways to live out our life’s calling. Perhaps God is telling us it is time to begin to explore other solutions to our problems.

I think that is what God may be telling us when our children cross the River Jordan. Blessed with an understanding that our life must now be lived in a different context we become open to the possibilities and “newness of life” that Jesus Christ promises. The Good Shepard promises an abundant life. I pray that all God’s children may enjoy that promise of abundance by generously sharing it with others.

For all the dearly departed and those who remain.

Peace and Prayers

You Tube Music Video: Stevie Wonder, Ribbon in the Sky

Risk: restoration, recovery,wellness, faith

October 8, 2010 Posted by | death, faith, life, love, service | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment