Tuesday, 28 June 2016

This is where our scars meet

I hadn't expected Orlando.

Stupid to say. Of course no one expected it. We hadn't expected Paris, or Brussels, or Charlie Hebdo either. But it wasn't just that I hadn't expected the attack, either on American soil or in an LGBT nightclub. I also hadn't expected my response.

The night after the news from the attacks filtered through our news channels, I lay awake for hours. I sweated and wept and when I finally did slip into dreaming I found myself in a concentration camp, the gaunt, hollowed faces of friends and acquaintances staring up at me, their clothes ragged H&M t-shirts, their bodies 21st century skeletons. I woke, startled, too afraid to sleep again, and walked through the next day in a daze, interrupted by unexpected bursts of tears and shock. Somehow this grief was personal. I felt as though my own friends had been attacked, and I feared for their safety, for my safety, for the safety of our cities and parades and nightclubs.

On Saturday, I was privileged to take part in the Pride Communion Service hosted by Christians at Pride in Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church. As I searched for songs appropriate to play during the Eucharist, I looked for songs which could communicate not only the intimate embrace of Christ found in the sacrament, not just the solidarity of splitting bread and wine with brothers and sisters in Christ, but also the specific grief of those who have been persecuted and hounded by, at times, the church itself, and who are struggling to find a way to channel that pain, fear and grief in a holy and godly way. Where was Christ in Orlando? Where is he in our fear, now?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I couldn't find a song encapsulating all that...so I wrote one:

I was there, I was there when they stormed your streets,
I was there, I was there when the bricks flew. 
I was there, I was there when the shots rang out, 
I was there when they silenced you.

I was there when they forced you from your homes, 
When they tore your clothes in two; 
I was there when they taunted and scorned your love, 
I was there when they crucified you. 

 Come, all who are weary,
All who are wounded and worn from the road; 
Come, you who still reel from rejection, 
You with the shame-ridden souls.
Come, eat;
Drink deep.
This is where our scars meet.

I was there when your closest friends betrayed, 
When your loved ones turned away;
I was there, I was there in the darkest night,
I was there when you tried to pray.

I was there when you found the strength to rise, 
When you stood up tall and proud.
I was there when you looked them in the eyes 
And proclaimed your name out loud. 

Come, all who are lonely and heartached,
Here is a place for your grief; 
Come, if you're burned by religion, 
Lay down your burdens, and breathe.
Come, eat;
Drink deep. 
This is where our scars meet.

This is my body; you are my body, broken and bruised. 
We are shared for the many; hope lies in these wounds. 
Nothing is wasted; each scars tells a story of grace. 
Poured out as an offering, none of this suffering falls to waste. 
Come, eat;
Drink deep.
This is where our scars meet.