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Editor’s Pick: A Psalm for a Time of Breathlessness

The Witness

Editor’s Note: We sometimes receive submissions from our audience that are unique, creative, or are otherwise “out of the box” for The Witness BCC blog. From time to time, we hope to bring you some of these submissions. A Psalm for a Times of Breathlessness” was written, anonymously, as a psalm of lament for the murder of innocent Black lives and the mistreatment of those who braved the pandemic to call for justice. We share this psalm with you, in this first week of Advent, as we ask the Lord to save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. Amen. –Ally Henny, Editor-in-Chief

A Psalm for a Time of Breathlessness
Written by: Anonymous
Submitted to The Witness by Sam Heath
How long, O Lord, until we breathe again? 
        Lord, we cry out in our breathlessness for you. 
The protesters, they cannot breathe; 
        they are choking on the tear gas. 
Your Black sons and daughters, they cannot breathe; 
        they are drowning in grief, in rage. 

Brother George, Brother Eric, they cannot breathe; 
        the police have murdered them. 
The healthcare workers, they cannot breathe; 
        they are smothered beneath masks and shields.  
The lonely, they cannot breathe; 
        they are shrouded behind doors that do not open.  
The sick, they cannot breathe; 
        the virus is conquering their very lungs. 
The dead, they cannot breathe; 
        no ventilator, vaccine, abolition, or reparation can save them now. 
The nation, it cannot breathe; 
        the foolishness of its leaders is breathtaking. 
But Lord, you are the God of breath and air,  
        Creator of oxygen and lung, Commander of wind. 
        You have made us for yourself, O Lord, so much so 
        That the sound of our breathing is the sound of your name. 
        Lord, we cry out in our breathlessness for you.  
It was you who gave us the Breath of Life so that we would all bear your image. 
        Lord, how we miss the sweet air of your garden. 
It was you who put breath into the valley of dry bones, to show us how one day you will open the graves. 
        Lord, how we long for the dead to rise.  
It was you whose first breath inside the tomb cleaved all history in two.
        Lord, where is that power today?  
It was you who breathed on the disciples and gave them the Holy Spirit to empower and direct. 
        Lord, what are we to do? 
It will be you who with the breath of your mouth will destroy all injustice and disease. 
         Lord, how we long for all to breathe easy the sweet air of your city. 
Lord, we cry out in our breathlessness for you.  
         How long, O Lord, until we breathe again?

2 thoughts on “Editor’s Pick: A Psalm for a Time of Breathlessness

  1. Molly Shockley

    This is beautiful and holds such truth. Thank you for sharing…

  2. Toni Vaughn

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem with us.

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