By Leanne Van Dyk, President
Upwards of 60 psalms of the total number of 150 are lament psalms. These psalms give voice to my own deep sadness this morning. The presidential election culminating with last night’s results threw many here in this community of faith and learning that I serve into confusion and fear. I cannot speak for each individual person at Columbia Theological Seminary, but I can give witness to a shared sense of sorrow:
The political campaign was bruising and vicious. We mourn that.
The political campaign uncovered deep cultural divisions. We lament those.
Our new president-elect targeted private citizens including women, persons of color, and those with physical disabilities. We protest that.
And so we link our voices to the lament psalms, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice!” says Psalm 130.
I have noticed that some people are able to reach toward comfort and courage quickly in this post-election morning. I am not able to do that. I am singing the songs of lament. But I do have the inner space to recognize that I am responsible for my reaction to what happened yesterday. I am reminded of an old Cherokee story.
The elder is teaching a child about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the child. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, and lies. The other is good – joy, peace, love, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person, too.”
The young child thought about it for a minute and then asked the elder, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee replied, “The one I feed.”
I will linger – for a while, at least – in lament. It is a true song of faith, well attested in Scripture. But I will also keep guard on my attitude and actions as we walk into an uncertain future, full of peril and possibilities. I pray for the entire community of Columbia Theological Seminary in this day and each day.