In my kitchen, I’m burning a candle labeled Virgin de Guadalupe. My friend is concerned that I’ve turned to a place of intercessory prayer, where an entity stands between me and the divine. It’s not that. It’s that I’m not adverse to help. Of any kind.

I’m thinking a lot about protection these days. Can we ensure it? How do we deliver?

Some social cases-in-point: blacks and the LGBTQ communities. It’s clear that, as a society, we’ve bungled the whole works. We can’t seem to stop our racism and our phobias. There’s a societal “if you’re not for us, you’re against us” mentality that is polarizing. You’re not for blacks, you’re not for cops, you’re not for gay marriage, you’re not for equality, you’re not for us….you’re on the other side of the line. We see this even in our political parties.

That “othersidedness” is where fear and hatred steps in. Evil rubs its dirty hands together: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a divide.”

Have you ever loved someone – even a group – to distraction? I don’t think I’m alone in this. I have and do love people, even groups of people, with a passion. I think of my family, of course, but also groups of students I’ve known, groups of women with whom I’ve studied and organized philanthropies. I think about what I would and did do, when they came under threat. Have you ever put yourself on the line, other than to “share” political statements on Facebook or to chatter with friends over the collective despair, when they’re under threat?

How do we effectively practice protection of the ones we love? What are we called to do? Even with the Supreme Court ruling, we know that there are those who will seek to thwart, to NOT comply. Case in point: Mississippi (see link.) Or consider white supremacists and their devastation. If we rid ourselves of handguns, if we enforce this type of protection, have we rid ourselves of the crime?

In my family, we have need of protection. Doesn’t yours? On the candle’s label, which has been burning all day on our heavy oak table, the prayer of intercession reads: “I implore your help in all the needs of my family and myself, begging the protection of your maternal heart on my poor children; look after them and fashion their hearts in humility.”

Could it be that the lesson we’re missing is in humility? Have we lost the concept that we are small, that we are not more or less than our neighbor? That we require intercession and community? That we need each other, just as we are? As a mother, I would welcome the ability to protect my children. No pain. No injustice. More mercy. More grace. I light a candle.

This concept of protection is swirling around me. How do I protect the rights of our community, the people in it, the global good? How do I practice a position of humility and still defend the rights of others? Of my children?

I implore, so that “we may be granted the joy of being together,” as the colorful, shrink-wrapped label proclaims. For a mere $1.89 candle from Meijers, I have set this in motion.

Amen. Selah (*).


*Etymology (link): may mean “loud” or used as am imperative, as in “fortissimo” or to “lift up.” Printed seventy-one times in the book of Psalms and three time in Habakkuk, and alternate meaning is “to hang,” from the Hebrew word “calah.”