As we planned our time in Massachusetts I had a different image in my mind when we talked about a daytrip to Salem. I suppose it has been those horror movies I have watched or books I have read that rather set the tone. While we were on our way yesterday morning I had a number of images roaming through my mind of what we might encounter.
I must confess I had the typical, rather cheesy images firmly in my mind as we snaked through the streets to downtown Salem. I had imagined witches with pointy hats, caped mysterious figures, black cats, ravens perched on windowsills, and all the things one might conjure up in preparation for such a day.
There was some of that imagery present in store fronts and on the streets, but I suspect not a great deal more than you might find in most business districts this time of year. There were a few in costume but very few. As we left that night there seemed to be a little more of what my mind’s eye had envisioned but still not a great deal more.
What did catch me a bit off guard, though I knew the history to some degree, was how I felt as I pondered this place of storied witches and mystery. As I listened to the tour guide, watched the reenactment at the museum, but mostly as I sat and reflected at the Witch Trial Memorial was the somberness I found. I walked the memorial reading each of the nineteen names who had been killed during that period in 1692 I was moved to sadness and a bit of anger as well.
It was religion gone terribly wrong, tragically wrong at the expense of the least of these at the hands of the powers that be who would not be questioned. I found myself rather speechless as I sat among the stones placed in their honor and memory and reflected not only on these nineteen but on all who have been persecuted by religion in our history and world; religion against religion, because of gender, color of skin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, nationality, and the list could go on and on.
I found myself with the ponderous question, “Why?” Why do we as humans continue to need a “scapegoat?” Why do we continue to need someone to blame, to persecute, to belittle, to attack? I hear from the Psalmist, “How long, O God?” How long will it take to realize we are all in this together? When will we finally embrace that rule that spans across almost every religion to “do to others as we would have done to us?”
Take some time this week to ponder such things. Take some time to reach out to someone who needs to know they matter. Take some time this season when you see one of those pointy hats who have come to your door for a treat and reflect on the tragedy of power gone too far, and say a little prayer, take action, speak up and make a little difference in your corner of that world that such tragedy never happen again.
It is one of the many ways we seek to be faithful to the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the family. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table.
Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.