I’ve been away from my blog for a couple of weeks. I’ve felt stunned into silence over all that’s unfolding across our land. What could I possibly have to offer? I came to prayer this morning almost without words, surely with scrambled thoughts, fear for my nation, grief for my black brothers and sisters, so many of whom I know and love. I came as well with little trust that our leaders can lead us out of our polarized political and cultural environment into much needed conversation. I came to prayer this morning uneasy.

“Come, Lord Jesus, come”—those are the words I finally muttered this morning. This will sound naïve to many, I know, but it felt the place to begin. My longtime friend Dr. John Perkins, said a few days ago, “what we need right now is to be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Here’s a man who has known the worst of ugly, violent racism, and yet, out of the wisdom of a lifetime in the trenches, this gentle man encourages us to open to the healing presence of the Holy Spirit.

What could this possibly mean? Well, perhaps we can be renewed to live by “the fruit of the Spirit. . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control.” There’s nothing here about spreading hatred. It’s all about relationships, before policies. It’s about love, before legislation.

I recently read again that great sermon delivered by John Winthrop, aboard the Arabella, as it approached the shores of New England in 1630. Winthrop felt they could be launching a new human society. He pleaded with his fellow settlers to “follow the counsel of Micah, to doe justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God.” “We must uphold a familiar commerce together,” he continues, “in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make other’s conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labour and suffer together.” We must be attentive not to “deal falsely with our God.”

I know quoting Winthrop is not the most politically adept thing to do these days, and while we have strayed from this path, at times badly, perhaps this is a worthy message buried deep in our history that can help us today. We know now all the failures to live up to this high calling, beginning with the encounters these same settlers had with native Americans, all the way through the scourge of slavery, through continuing racism we feel today, through poverty and homelessness, through the divisions and outright hatred that plague us. Might we ever get back to a vision like Winthrop’s, or the challenge of Dr. Perkins to be filled with the Spirit?

The Psalmist, as so often happens for me, came to my rescue early this morning. Psalm 79:8 gave me a few words by which I stammered into prayer. In the midst of the devastating destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of brutal foreign invaders, the threat to the nation materializing before his eyes, all the murder and mayhem erupting around him, the Psalmist turns to God with a pleading heart:

Do not remember against us the guilt of past generations;
rather let your compassion come swiftly to meet us,
for we have been brought so low.

Lord, “come swiftly to meet us.” We are “brought so low,” partly by the consequences of our actions, but bring your compassion down on us, so that we might begin again to rebuild our city and our nation.

Also this morning I ran into Jesus, exhausted with the non-stop work of healing people, mending lives, fixing brokenness. He is worn out. And then Luke reminds us that Jesus,

from time to time . . . would withdraw to remote places for prayer.

I’ve teetered these days on the edge of despair, stunned into silence, neither of them comfortable places for me. And I have finally decided, the only way forward for me is to go first into my remote places for prayer, there to plead with my Lord to come sweeping swiftly down, like the fierce wind of Pentecost, healing divisions, forgiving our shortcomings, pulling us into a renewed movement of love and grace and reconciliation.

There’s much work to be done, no question about it, but first I say: “Come, Lord Jesus, come.” This is the place, for me, to begin again.