I have always enjoyed the story about how King George III of England on, July 4th, 1776, wrote in his diary, 'Nothing of importance happened today.' Wonderful juxtaposition of an emperor who was unaware of being about to lose a part of his empire sparked by his power and greed and a people's hunger for freedom from oppression.
Turns out the story isn't true. George didn't keep a diary.
There was still a vein of truth within the story.
George was still a monarch who ruled motivated by power and greed, not the compassion for his people.
I grew up watching documentary films of children in dictatorial countries who were seemingly brainwashed with what to believe about their country, their leaders, their place in the world. It never occurred to me that I had been carefully taught what to believe as well. I have been listening more deeply to the people of color in our country. Their history. Their journey. Ways in which it was similar to mine and many more ways in how it was and still is very different.
I commend 1619 Project from the New York Times Magazine. I also commend the book, Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US by Lenny Duncan. For me, I am learning what I didn't know about my own country. I am learning because I have been endowed by my Creator with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What makes me happy is learning the truth about how to live compassionately. Do Justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.
My deepest thanks to four ELOGOS readers who sent donations to a health clinic I mentioned in a previous post. Thanks to you - the clinic was able to open and is serving the poor. For Jesus, power is justice for the oppressed and wealth is a generous heart. I thank you.
I woke up this morning thinking about John Ritter. Yes, the actor. He died suddenly about 16 years ago at the age of 54 years. One of the comments about him at the time of his death struck a chord with me that continues to resonate. Barbara Wood, a writer, only met him briefly once, but Ritter touched her life with this message. Wood writes,
"He gave me a gift at a luncheon table - an interesting personal philosophy. John Ritter told me that he believed a golden thread connects all human beings together. A golden thread that goes through him to me and out to the others at our table, and from there to everyone else....coming back to him. He said we all have this golden connecting thread and that when we pluck it, we affect everyone else. We can make them laugh or cry or give them something to think about. A golden thread, he said, that he plucked when he was acting, and he believed I pluck through my writing. The golden thread of humanity he called it."
Imagine that is true. We have not been good stewards of that thread. Plucking is a gentle action meant to enliven the thread not stretch or break it. I pray it is not beyond repair. It does need intensive care. I believe we are up to the task. Ritter died having lived a dream of being able to pluck the golden thread that led from himself to others and caused that thread to vibrate with joy. That's a good dream. A good dream to wake up to.
A Passage Witnessed on a Walk One Day
By Deb Grant
Though not by pace.
hair slick with sweat
the forehead vein
surface of the head.
Then from behind
a faster scuff
an easy pace
fresher legs by far
then running backwards
matching the pace
And offering a word,
Peace spoke saying
The answers you seek
May never come.
I've got this.
Who doesn't hate it to be scammed, to be made the fool, to be caught walking around in the world with a little or a lot less information? Is being embarrassed enough humility? If we are not humiliated, should we inflict ourselves in order to be made well? Our choices of response have proven inadequate. To strike back? To hate? To never trust anyone, ever?
Last night I started reading a book. A black man's letter to a church denomination he loves. A voice crying to those of us in the wilderness of a dying, white church. There is some hope of resurrection, but not without the dying. The choices are fewer these days than ever before. Wake up or die.
My waking up did not happen like Luther's mythical ride in a thunderstorm. I can't even put my waking up in the past tense of WOKE. It is still, for me, a wake. I am still at the funeral burying my foolishness and gullibility. I am trying not to fill myself with the empty calories of shame and bitterness to humiliate myself. Mostly I am listening and marinating in what I hear.
One night in a former congregation, there was an end-of-the-year celebration in the evening for our Pre-K children and their family. My role was leading their weekly chapel service on Wednesday morning. The light from the 2-story high stained glass window of Jesus with arms uplifted blazed like a laser into little eyes wincing in the pews. But this program happened in the evening. No light through the window. No shining colors only the texture of the lead shaping Jesus face and body. A little boy became excited, caught my eye and waved me to come to him. I came. He said as he pointed at the window, "Pastor Deb, look! Jesus looks like me!" I looked at the black face of Jesus and back to the black little boy. It wasn't a time for humiliation or shame. It was time to share his joy.
In the book I am reading it suggested- no stated -that when Jesus died on the cross, he rose again for those who are suffering and oppressed. The white church of a white Jesus is dying. It has some serious dying to do. It has some "Come to Jesus" moments of reckoning. It has no time for self-flagellation and shame. It is time to grab hold of the grace we are so proud of and break some walls down and some windows while we are at it. That will cost a lot of money and require a lot of courage. We have some dyin' to do before the new day comes. Justice is seen best when it is done.
I had lunch with a couple of people who are working their hearts out to feed the poor, care for the homeless, walk with the sick. They don't have time to hear how badly we feel or listen to our politics. They can feed 80 homeless people a meal for about $200. They need an exam table that costs $2000. to open a health clinic. They need $1800. for a new electrical box so they can have power in that clinic. If you are interested in doing justice today, email me. I will send you the name/address of these people who are the open window of the love of Christ.
Aftermath by Deb Grant
El Paso and Dayton
Shots fired again.
What am I supposed to do?
In the aftermath, I have gone through
A checklist of blame and
A thesaurus of emotions.
The culture. Mental Health. Guns. Hate. Fear. Young White Men. The parents of Youth White Men. Terrorists. Shock. White Supremacists. The phobias of a nation. Cell phones. Social Media. All Media. Too little God. Too much religion. The President. Grief. The Congress. Outrage. The NRA. Anger. The Gun manufacturers. The Russians. Fear. I said that didn’t I. Fear. Our inability to identify and face our fears. Our addiction to power. Guns are good that way. Power at our fingertips. We even have a finger named for it. Trigger finger. We all have one. We all have a trigger finger. There is no single solution so we remain paralyzed. Unable to move even a finger, but what if…what if we started looking just beyond our finger.
What if we began stewarding the space between the finger and the trigger?
The best place for my trigger finger was where I wanted to be this morning
On the coastline of Peaks Island
Inside the little girl who loved the water, loves it still
Splayed face down on the ground
Not unlike the shooter
Not with dead hands cuffed behind my back
But fingers free
To let them play in the tidal pools just beyond my face,
With creatures and the captivating coolness of a little ocean
Cupped between warm boulders for me to see the wonder of the world
Beneath my fingers.
The Other creatures. Periwinkles. Starfish. Anemone. Coral. Clams.
Utterly other lives than me and yet so alive.
Diffracted by the water and the light,
They are safe from my touch.
I can only play and wave with my fingers
Only revel and reverence
And peacefully participate.
Yes, perhaps, stewarding the space between our fingers and
The trigger is some place to begin
So says the child who still is discovering her own fingers.
Or we can return to the checklist again
And again until we go numb
And forget we ever had fingers
Or care about what they were
Reaching for or why.