Lift every voice and sing,
till earth and heaven ring,
ring with the harmonies of liberty;
let our rejoicing rise,
high as the listening skies,
let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
James Weldon Johnson in “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (1921)
Israel, listen! Our God is the Lord! Only the Lord!
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength. These words that I am commanding you today must always be on your minds. Recite them to your children. Talk about them when you are sitting around your house and when you are out and about, when you are lying down and when you are getting up. Tie them on your hand as a sign. They should be on your forehead as a symbol. Write them on your house’s doorframes and on your city’s gates.
Love God with everything you’ve got! What would happen if this were our daily mantra and lifelong goal? How would it transform the ways we show up at home, in school, and in our communities?
Like Israel, our spiritual formation requires a constant focus on learning and sharing sacred knowledge with those whom we know and love. It also means learning to love God’s image and likeness in the people who are different from us. This kind of God-love crosses borders and boundaries to reach those who feel excluded and unappreciated. Sharing this God-love causes us to become practitioners of radical inclusion and sources of hope in our fractured world. We need to be and create more places where the weary can be at rest.
God of Motherly Love, help me to love you with everything I’ve got. Let my God-love spill over onto so many others that none will feel alone and uncared for in this world. Keep me mindful of this goal in my everyday life until it becomes a holy habit. Amen.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of a dark black night
John Lennon/Paul McCartney in “Blackbird” (1968)