Sunday was an especially amazing and yet difficult day – a day when God smiled and cried at the same time. Sunday was the dedication of the first Social Justice Park in the United States. The Washington Gladden Social Justice Park, a brainchild of associate Rev. Tim Aherns, had its grand opening. Although it was a damp, dreary, cold day, hundreds came out including Dominican Sisters of Peace and their Associates.
At one point, the rain began and colorful umbrellas covered the crowd like so many mushrooms. It occurred to me that God was crying about all the injustice happening in our world– the shootings in Pittsburgh and the Kroger outside Louisville, KY, the pipe bombs, the caravan from Honduras and the fear mongering bent on stopping them at our border, the laws and rules determined to keep refugees and asylum seekers from being welcomed, the bombing in Syria and Yemen, and many, many more actions that don’t seem to represent the values of our country.
Then, in the midst of the rain came the sun. Just a glimmer at first but later bright, warm, loving sun embraced our cold, damp bodies. It seemed miraculous to me – almost as if God was smiling down on the park and all the folks supporting it. There was reason for us to be happy at that moment as we heard from various speakers of the promise of the park. We need a park full of beauty to keep us thinking about and acting for the cause of justice.
I was particularly moved by the poem written and read by Sara Abou Rached, a 19 year old raised in Syria whose family came here because of the war, who described America “as one reliant woman who is loud, proud, strong. Whose shoulders shelter continents. Who arms extend and reach beyond oceans.” Yes…. America who is welcoming and sheltering and peaceful.
She reminded me of the greatness of America in a time when it’s easy to feel the stinginess of our government’s actions and overwhelming amount of injustice.
In his daily email on that same day, Fr. Richard Rohr wrote that that we are each love. “When [we] don’t live according to love, [we] are outside of being. [We] are not real or true to ourselves. When [we] love, [we] are acting according to our deepest being, our deepest truth. [We] are operating according to our dignity…This kind of love is… outflowing.” That same day, God cried and smiled on us at the same time, an outflowing of God’s presence to remind us that we must also promote an outflowing of justice.
You can listen to Sara’s entire poem here: https://www.pbs.org/video/i-am-america-sara-abou-rashed-awtcyo/