After hearing Jezebel expound on her state policy of murdering protesters of her injustices, Elijah sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” — 1 Kings 19:4
I have had enough!
Bullets sprayed on Black bodies and Jewish bodies and any-body deemed a no-body
Hatred spewed from pulpits and pundits
Lies promulgated by preachers and presidents
the Apotheosis of White America
IT IS ENOUGH
this world where you can get gunned down while shopping,
this world where you can get gunned down while worshipping,
this world where doors of synagogues and churches and mosques must be locked to keep out machines of death and their mad wielders
I am no better than my ancestors
So Let Me Be,
with my lynched fathers,
chest-torn mothers covered
with blood soaked prayer shawl,
my murdered ancestors
Here, get up and eat.
here, get up
And I stood up and walked for forty days without hope but not hopeless,
Without any expectation but not apathetic,
Tired, just tired,
But I walked,
I walked to where my people once gathered
And received God’s dabar
I climbed the mountain without faith but not with fear
I was too tired for fear
I went and sat,
survived a hurricane
survived an earthquake,
survived a forest fire kindled by God and Man,
until there was a quiet,
Until a whispering wind inquired,
“What are you doing here?”
And I returned
With words rooted in quiet resolve
To the cities of human tragedies
❖ ❖ ❖
The atrocities of late October (murders at a Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky, and in a synagogue in Pittsburgh) felled me into a depression. The murderers violated activities we assumed were safe. Who ever worries while getting their keys to go shopping at Kroger? Or praying with life-long friends at a synagogue? There has been murder in holy places, but we don’t arm our ushers — not out of ethics, but out of a deep need for spaces that does not require vigilance.
And then to know that victims were targeted for their skin color and creed. My father told me when I was a kid to stay away from violence and then violence wouldn’t find me because those who “live by the sword will die by the sword.” But today, if you are black or not Christian, you must always fear violence, no matter the space.
Where others took to prayers and protests (God bless them), I shut up. Words felt useless. Until I heard Elijah’s frustration. “It is enough!” How impious and true. He wasn’t trying to make sense of what just transpired, how all his efforts at justice crumbled with an “executive order” of a violent administration. (We forget that in premodern times, religious reality was political reality, so Elijah’s call to return to YHWH was a call to return to a more just Deuteronomic society.) He was tired, too tired to try to understand what happened or even protest the futility of it. He just had enough. He had enough of God and of this world. Death felt like a solution.
Elijah’s frustration was the only word I could muster. I said them. Then I wrote them. Then I needed to write more. Nothing profound or elaborate, but just the fact of the tragedies. And then Elijah took me with him on his 40-day walk, and up to the mountain where, after nature became spent with all its fury and emotion, silence comes to make room for a question from God that sent Elijah back to the valleys and cities of human sin. His ancestors can wait, and so can our ancestors.
SAMUEL SON works in the area of diversity and reconciliation for the PC(USA). He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.