I go to church. It’s something that I did every Sunday for much of my life. Then, for several years, I stopped, but I started up again a year ago. I go to a very large Episcopal church, and I go by myself. The church I attend could stand to be a little more inclusive, insofar as liberalism could stand to be more inclusive, but they welcome everyone, use historical/figurative scripture interpretations, and play beautiful music, so I’m usually very happy to go there and be still.
After church last Sunday, Father Greg Boyle came and had a public talk with our rector. Father Boyle founded Homeboy Industries, one of the world’s largest gang intervention programs, which you can read about on their website. He’s known for doing very good things in L.A., and he is, by all accounts, next-level compassionate. At Sunday’s discussion, Father Boyle said some profoundly lovely things, particularly with regard to Michael Brown, which I wrote down and will probably share another day. However, he said something I’ve been thinking about ever since that just doesn’t sit right with me: “I don’t do disappointment because God doesn’t do disappointment…God is too busy loving us to get around to disappointment.”
These words aren’t computing for me in the wake of the Ferguson and Eric Garner grand jury decisions. I’m not sure pure love for love’s sake is enough anymore. I’ve struggled with the same thing in my yoga teacher training: at one point, I asked how practicing the niyama (observance) of santosha (contentment) aids yoga practitioners in achieving social justice (my belief in yoga as a therapeutic social justice aid is a primary reason for my becoming a teacher). One of my classmates pointed out a quote in a book she’d brought in, which stated that “achieving inner peace is a more political act than overthrowing any empire.” Though I do understand and appreciate the necessity of self-care for activists, I wasn’t swayed by that idea.
I attended a Ferguson solidarity rally last week, where many of those gathered demanded body cameras for police forces in the U.S. Today, a grand jury in New York City declined to indict the policeman who strangled Eric Garner to death on camera. Garner was unarmed. His last words were, “I can’t breathe”. He was denied CPR for seven minutes after losing consciousness. He was ruled dead by homicide. His murder was recorded and seen by millions. His murderer is free, without trial.
I can’t practice contentment here. And unlike God, I can’t withhold disappointment here. I’m exhausted and angry about people in power caring so little about the people they’re supposed to represent and protect. People in our police force disproportionately injure and kill people of color. Our justice system perpetuates rape culture. Our government disregards the concerns of people of color, the poor, women, the LGBTQ+ community, and students. I’m not content with it. I’m not going to say that I am, or try to be.
So, right now, my spiritual mind is with Jesus. Perhaps God doesn’t do disappointment, but Jesus did. He got really rude with the people he was disappointed with. Jesus called people out. And he didn’t get disappointed about abortion or gender expression. He got disappointed in greed, exploitation, prejudice, racism and oppression. I hope he can remind spiritually-minded people, particularly those of privilege, that you shouldn’t stand for injustice because you’re chasing peace.