A psalmic reflection on Derek Chauvin in light of Psalm 32 and John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is put away! Blessed/happy is the one to whom the LORD imputes no guilt,and in whose spirit there is no deceit!
He is guilty. It was his knee that pressed George Floyd’s neck against the pavement. I saw it with my own eyes. I watch his eyes during the trial. I see no hint of remorse. No sense of guilt. He sheds no tears. His mouth stays shut. He does not speak.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Is he silent now in solitary confinement? Does he have conversations with himself? Does he scream at the jury for failing to vindicate him? Does he talk with God? Is he restless all day and all night? Does he feel a heavy hand pressing down on him the way his knee had pressed down on George Floyd’s neck? Is he wasting away, groaning all day long?
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with shouts of deliverance.
He is not preserved from trouble in maximum security. The shouts of other inmates on the solitary confinement cell block are taunts, not shouts of deliverance: “I can’t breathe; I can’t breathe, Mr. Officer! Get your White knee off my Black neck!” There is no hiding in this place where only perps, not cops, do time. There is no solitude. There are no shouts of deliverance.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
Does he sense a presence waiting to instruct and guide him into a way beyond the White/Black—Innocent/Guilty—Cop/Perp—Top/Bottom—Up/Down-World his eyes are trained to see? Does he sense the presence of a different Eye, a greater I than he?
“Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding; Whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you."
Will he bow his head to be fit with the long-suffering patience that reins in deluded mules and bucking broncos? Will the solitary cop in orange shift from wailing in the minor key of down-and-out-over-and-done to the glad shouts of deliverance by an I greater than he? Does he hear the the chant — “a love supreme…a love supreme…a love supreme” — of a bridled Coltrane resounding off the walls in this not-so-God-forsaken place?
In this place where cops are perps and perps are cops with heads bowed by the law, will the killer cop bow the knee that killed George Floyd? Will he bow his head to be fit with the bit and bridle of a Love Supreme that delivers the soul from every illusion of supremacy?
A Love Supreme
Click HERE and scroll forward to 6:00 minute to hear Coltrane’s unexpected chant, a love supreme, a love supreme.
— Gordon C. Stewart, public theologian, author of Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness (2017 Wipf and Stock), a reflection on Psalm 32 (GCS Unauthorized Version), and the solitary confinement of Derek Chauvin, August 9, 2021.