I see the wicked spreading itself like a green bay tree. But are my eyes too clouded by endless tears to see the righteous?
I see killers. But where are the Christians? I see the slayers. But where are the pray-ers? Where is that “old ship of Zion” whose spiritual songs once soothed our souls, led us down the path to being made whole?
I hear the wail of mourning mothers. They rise above the cacophony of gunfire and chaos, where children at play run for cover. Where brother takes murderous aim against brother. In a city where we seem numb to the slaying of each other.
I see the carnage of another homicidal Chicago summer day, where mass shootings have become commonplace and the city’s knee-jerk response a damn disgrace.
As sure as the rising sun, the city awakens to the sound of the gun. To the carnage of another night, where on the streets an endless river of blood runs.
I hear politicians making the same old excuses, pointing fingers, appearing useless. I see city officials shifting blame, playing the same old PR game. Spinning the tale of violence with no shame.
Excuse me, Madam Mayor, it’s a state of emergency.
And yet, I’ve heard more political ballyhooing over renaming Lake Shore Drive than over how to stop the killing. Bore witness to a motorcade on Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive in honor of the renaming on Independence Day weekend when Chicago’s violence was shameful: 104 shot, 19 killed.
We major in minors, and minor in majors — still. Meanwhile, tree-lined neighborhoods have become killing fields.
Maybe we should rename our streets: Drive-by Avenue. Killing Our Children Way. Bloody Outer Drive.
For this is the city that bleeds beneath powder blue summer skies. Where babies get shot and we don’t all cry.
Black bodies drop in the ‘hood with no protest, or a peep from Black Lives Matter. I’ve heard the murder of us by us isn’t on their agenda. But why should the color of the shooter matter?
What’s sadder is that I expect government, politicians and organizations to fail. But where is the church in the midst of so much hell? Pray tell.
The church. That historic anchor in the midst of Black America’s storms and journey over fiery coals. That church — without walls — that uplifted us when ole Massa assailed Black bodies on southern plantations with unspeakable horrors that could not steal our souls.
The church. That caused us to see the invisible and, by faith, to cling to the substance of things hoped for. That made us whole, even when we were dirt poor. The church that reassured us we are so much more.
Even in the face of hate and degradation — just three-fifths a person in this our nation — the church helped us to endure and fight with patience.
The church that once upon a time would not feed us pie in the sky, but inspired us, revived us, taught us how to live by truth not lies.
The church that once, not long ago, inclined her ears to the cries of the least of these. That possessed that sacred spiritual balm that offers healing and hope for all in need.
And yet, everywhere I see churches, even through teary eyes. But relatively few prayers out on the streets where the people die. And I’m left wondering whether “the church” still believes in the power of God. Or if the church has become just another lie.
At least it is clear to me that something must be amiss. For how can so much so-called light and darkness coexist?
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