Defilement is a horrible thing to experience. I remember once, when I was fifteen, thieves broke into our home. I awoke early to find a severed phone cord, scattered belongings and wide-open back door. They robbed several other homes on our street and when they were apprehended days later, we learned it was a team of three men.
Three men breaking, entering, searching, taking…steps from my closed but unlocked bedroom door. I was the only one who slept in a basement bedroom—my parents and three siblings safely upstairs. I could have been destroyed that night but was protected. Unseen sentinels stood at my door refusing to let them pass.
Watching the Capitol siege was a bit like that, after I realized I wasn’t seeing doctored images—because it was that unbelievable.
A pundit made the connection for me. “It was like watching a sacred space be defiled,” he said.
There are other issues too.
Race. DC would be aflame if the rioters were Black. We know this is true.
Distraction. So much of our time is time is spent thinking, talking and writing about these things. Our sense of peace compromised by the activity there and the trickle-down effect here. When I look on my screen—television, computer, phone—it’s a cacophony of chaos. When I look out my window screen, observe real life, it’s really lovely. That disconnect is disturbing.
But the real issue seems to be powerlust. A man who isn’t a servant-leader but a would-be despot who’d flip the country upside down, turn it inside out, suck his mob dry of worship—and still be hungry.
Is he just a flash of lightening that once captured by the rod, dispersed and grounded, goes away? Or is he representative of something else—a collective ideal (now heavily tarnished) that once sparkled like diamonds. We do love sparkly things, don’t we?
Our country (my adopted, beloved country) created the systems that put this man, this type of man, in charge. His wealth and power were worshipped long before he was elected. I remember the opening of The Apprentice, where he walked in slow motion with Anthony Jackson’s killer bassline from For the Love of Money searing every step.
He’s not revered like that anymore and the legacy of his presidency is going up in smoke—but the animosity surrounding him is spreading like contagion.
When I see people respond to his cruelty with their cruelty—storming buildings, intimidating, taking over AND unfriending, belittling, name-calling, calling-out, I fear we’ve got it backward.
Add fire to fire and you get an inferno. It’s so easy for people to wound other people over politics and so difficult to show mercy, grace and compassion. Politics exist to serve people—not the other way around.
Does this mean we eschew accountability or stifle individuality? Certainly not. But it does mean we don’t fight with the same weapons. Rage and outrage are still rage.
There’s a Psalm I love. David is recounting a time when the ‘cords of death’ encompassed him and ‘torrents of destruction’ assailed him—a time when the sacred was defiled. He called out to God and was delivered—restored. But not the way you may expect.
“You have given me the shield of your salvation and your right hand supported me and your gentleness made me great.” Psalm 18:35
Greatness, by way of God’s gentleness to us.
Lord, make America gentle, for the first time.
To extinguish the fire we need water from above. Rain from heaven that quells the flames and brings life to desolate ground.
We need repentance, forgiveness and the rejection of hatred that casts ourselves and the like-minded as heroes and others as unworthy.
We need to learn to love our enemies. Hating is too easy. And anything that easy should be suspect.
I will be joining with countless others in praying for restoration for our country, wisdom, protection, peace and a good use of power for our new president and vice president, for a strengthening of our democracy and for the families who are suffering. There are so many.
We’ve experienced a season of defilement now I pray we experience grace that leads to healing and the restoration of sacred places.
"Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles and run with endurance the race set before you. "