It has been a heavy week. After spending 13 weeks worried about a pandemic, we added a worry about the fabric of our community. Would the fibers hold or fray? It would be easy to give in to despair. Perhaps like you, I began to relive moments of my own narrative where racism reared its ugly head. I remembered Yolanda, my friend in the 5th grade. I was new in the school because we had moved and she was new because it was the first year of “busing” and we clicked. But when I mentioned to my mom that I would like to invite Yolanda over to play I heard a hesitation in Mom’s voice that was new an unfamiliar to me. And Yolanda did not come over to play. And I remembered my grandfather, who was a small-town sheriff, discussing folks of different skin tones with unacceptable slang. The seeds of the current moment have been sewn for a long time. And so many people: religious, civic, governmental, community, have labored to heal our divisions and bring us together as one human family. But division and pain lingers. And we know that what is currently happening is not what God desires.
Four voices have given me hope this week. One is my 24-year-old son, and along with him, many other folks I know in their 20s. When I talk with him/them, I hear something I haven’t heard before, a deep and compelling passionate determination to get involved with their time, money, intellect and create a better world. I hear something holy in their agitation. The second was from author and criminal rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, who reminded me that when I was a kid, Mothers Against Drunk Driving formed and out of that movement came new laws that make all of us live in a safer and more just society. Movements can lead to lasting change. Third was a line from Camus novel “The Plague.” One of the characters, a doctor says that he realized that even though the plague never dies or disappears, that in the end, “there are more things to admire in men than to despise” And the final one came from the classic text by Father Henri Nouwen, “The Wounded Healer,” “Hope prevents us from clinging to what we have and frees us to move away from the safe place and enter unknown and fearful territory…It is an act of discipleship in which we follow the hard road of Christ, who entered death with nothing but bare hope.”
Grace and Peace,