495 years ago today, in 1525, the Swiss Anabaptist Movement was founded when Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, George Blaurock, and about a dozen others baptized each other, breaking a thousand-year tradition of church-state union. (Historical Calendar https://goo.gl/TDME3p )
Below is a hymn by Felix Manz, who was martyred for his faith by drowning in Lake Zurich in January of 1527, becoming the first casualty of the Zurich council’s edict that made adult rebaptism punishable by drowning.
Here is the hymn in German and in English:
Mit Lust so will ich singen
Mein Herz freut sich in Gott
Der mir viel Kunst thut bringen,
Dasz ich entrinn dem Tod
Der ewiglich nimmet kein End.
Ich preiz dich Christ vom Himmel,
Der mir mein Kummer wend.
With gladness will I now sing;
My heart delights in God,
Who showed me such forbearance
That I from death was saved
Which never hath an end.
I praise Thee, Christ in heaven
Who all my sorrow changed.
I am grateful for my forbears and the faith passed down to me by my family.
May I be as courageous.
Resistance is the latest buzz word it seems, though it is not a new thing.
“Your modern ways don’t inspire me. Jah Jah guides.”
So is resistance futile, as so stated by the hive mind collective Borg in Star Trek? I don’t know, but I have found a nagging discomfort within regarding fully participating in the current manifestation of the so-called Resistance.
Perhaps it is because I have seen this all before. A new public figure demonized. The masses crying out for justice. A few bread crumbs of change thrown to mollify them until they return to their normal sleep walking existence while real change remains elusive.
So pardon me for my insistence at putting some distance between me and this instance of the Resistance.
Perhaps it is because I suspect that while our attention is on what seems obvious, the movement is subverted by the subtle, not-so-easily-discernable lies that keep us chained within.
So as I have pondered my resistance to the Resistance, a word has risen to the surface of my inner tumultuous ocean.
That word is persistence.
Another word for this (at least in theological circles) is faithfulness.
As I have reflected on what these words mean, some thoughts have begun to percolate in my brain.
Persistence is about taking the long view, vision, and/or second sight, by overlooking petty differences, and refusing to be short sighted.
Persistence is about humbly acknowledging that in the present we see through a glass darkly, that the revelation of truth is a gradual thing, that it best revealed in radically diverse company, and that no one person or group has a corner on the truth no matter how loud he/she/they may shout.
Persistence is a marathon, not a sprint.
Persistence is about learning to breathe and taking the time to do so. It is about both inhalation and exhalation. It is about being mindful of what we breathe in and what we breathe out. It is about what words we say and when silence can be a shout.
Persistence is an acknowledgement of the great cloud of witnesses, saints and sinners, who have walked this road before, and who are watching how we walk this road now. It is the knowledge that we break no new ground, that we walk in their footsteps, that this river at least, when we step into it, is the same river, is constant, and has been rushing since the beginning of time towards the inevitable thundering fall of justice.
Persistence is the trust in Alpha and the Omega, in the beginning and the end. It is the faith that we know the end to the story, and that this end is good news.
Persistence is never surrendering to despair, never giving up on hope, always believing that love conquers all, that love never fails.
It is remaining faithful to the bitter, and not so bitter, end.
So on this day, with this faith, I am joining the Persistence.
Join us, won’t you?
There is a bridge in Washington DC that is named after an unlikely hero, a man who quite literally gave his life to save others.
Thirty-eight years ago, on January 13, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 Boeing 737-200 crashed onto the 14th Street Bridge and into an icy Potomac River, killing all 73 passengers and crew. Four passengers and one flight attendant were the only survivors.
At least four of those people owed their lives to the “sixth passenger” as he became known.
After the plane crashed and began to sink into the ice-strewn river, six people could be seen clinging to the plane’s tail fin. A US Park Police helicopter arrived on the scene and immediately began trying to rescue the survivors. The helicopter rescued one person and then returned to the tail.
Arland D. Williams Jr. caught the rescue line and instead of wrapping it around himself, he passed it to flight attendant Kelly Duncan. When the helicopter returned to the wreckage a third time, it dropped two lines because the crew feared that the remaining survivors would succumb to hypothermia very soon. Williams caught one of the lines and passed it on to a severely injured Joe Stiley, who also grabbed Priscilla Tirado. Patricia Felch took the other line and was towed to safety along with the others.
When the helicopter returned, Williams and the tail section of the plane were gone. After the bodies from the crash were recovered, the coroner determined that Williams was the only passenger to die by drowning therefore he had been the “sixth passenger,” the one who gave his life for others.
Ninety-one years ago today a man was born who would give his life to rescue his people from the dark depths of racial segregation and discrimination. Fifty-two years after his death, the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is honored and acknowledged through his monument on the National Mall.
I will probably never have a bridge named after me, but I want to be a bridge between people. I may never have to pass a rescue line to another, but I want to daily live my life in service to others who may need a helping hand.
I will probably never have a monument highlighting my deeds, but I can make my life a monument that honors an ordinary hero like Williams and the extraordinary life of Dr. King.
Perhaps I can be the one who keeps someone from slipping beneath the surface into the cold depths of despair.
Originally posted January 15, 2012, dates updated to reflect present.
against foreign sand
reeking of fish spume
by divine’s demand
to where my enemies loom
in a strange land
birthed from whale’s womb
a jagged command
be freed from leviathan’s tomb!
Pen and Ink on paper
copyright 2020 kmls
the universe is expanding
not so your mind
you are an old wineskin
about to burst with new wine
you look up at the stars
gazing back in time
but you are not enlightened
by what you find
you pine for a time
that just wasn’t true
because the good ol days
were only good for a few
and the past is past
it will never renew
so why does yesterday
have such a hold on you?
history is a great teacher
with few who enroll
in her classes to learn
if the truth be told
when what you believe
is another black hole
the price to be paid
is the loss of your soul