In my faith tradition, Jesus is crucified on the cross. He cries out, “Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?” This is a reference to Psalm 22 which explores emotions of abandonment, anger, and finding hope. I have used this methodology to express the anger and hope that I find for the youth that I work with who are affected by incarceration.

One night when I was working in detention (re: jail for kids), I heard story after story of hopelessness. It came to me that these youth were torn apart by their parents, by the education system, by poverty, by global issues beyond my understanding. One youth was going home the next day. To a crack addicted mother. Why couldn’t he go to his dad? His dad smuggles guns into the country and was a high placed gang member. He was certain he would be dead if he lived with his dad. So to his mom he goes. Where she will offer him drugs and he will become hooked. Again. He said, “I do not have the strength to say no to my mother.”

Another youth, noticably affected with psychological and educational challenges, was from Somalia. He was living with his auntie here. In Somalia, he had seen his parents dragged from their home, his mother raped, and both parents killed in front of him. But instead of investing in mental health centers, we have invested in mental health courts. This young man, clearly with a minimum of PTSD, will be locked up where the focus is on “treatment” (in this setting that means that they admit to crime and say they are sorry) not on therapy.

This makes me so mad! So my heart cries out to all who have let down these children. Let me say it again–children. But in order to do this work, I needed to discover why. The below poem was my journey through the anger to discovering how I can possibly continue to find hope and love in a system that is hopeless and loveless. It is also my way of putting words to the stories that the youth tell. And my own story.

And PS, if you’d like to support my work with these troubled youth, I’d love it!

 

Psalm
Eli Eli lama sabachthani?

where were you
when the embryo
hatched and was formed
by blood-spattered hyenas
tearing hope from
limb to limb and
laughing gleefully
at the mockery

where were you
when the embryo
fell and love
offered a hit
of a crack pipe
covered in symbols
flashing through
the ghetto offering
escape from the
desolate heat

the hands that
should be reaching
out are cut off at
the wrists bleeding
sanctimonious tripe
in defiance of the call
to love the
least , lost, and lonely
while sentencing each
embryo to death

guilty rings through
the room as we
continue to bleed the
embryo out with
ignorance born of
fear and shame and
the lie of the only way
being my way standing
on the corner shouting
belligerently to
repent or die

revelation rings through
the cosmos as the
embryo marches the
guilty to sheol while
silent tears are birthed
wresting the stumbling
breath of hope into a
silent scream reaching
to the ramparts and
calling forth the final
battle fought with
easter lilies

© 2013, post, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

© 2009, poem, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriTERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction with honors and is a rare United Methodist student in the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual.

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

4 thoughts on “Abandoned, Alone, and Angry

  1. The love you aren’t seeing is there Terri. It’s there in you and in the other people who work in a system with tough constraints and limitations. It must be a completely frustrating experience to be the one offering the love and working within these limits. I hold you and your children in my prayers and feel blessed to do so.

    Like

    1. Yes, the love is there! That is what I love about Psalm 22. It starts in the loveless, hopeless, care-less position and moves to love, hope, and care.

      Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!

      Like

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