I am not usually at a loss for words, but today it is hard to find them. Hard to put into words the grief, shock, and fear I feel for our nation. Hard to reconcile the hate filled, fear filled speech we have heard over the last few months with the image of the people I thought we, as a nation, were. And it is hard to figure out how to keep going—what the way forward looks like. We are so divided—we seem to have 2 completely different ideas of America.
Since I moved into Queen Village a year ago, every morning on my walk to church I pass a little shop on 2nd Street—a book shop with Arabic writing on the window. And every morning there is an older Arab man sitting facing the window working on an old fashioned type writer. I’ve often looked at him and thought I should go in and talk to him. This morning, as I glanced over at him, I was overwhelmed by that need—so I went in and introduced myself, then proceeded to apologize to him—telling him that I saw him as a brother and fellow citizen—that he was as American as any of us—and I burst into tears. He very kindly and calmly took my hand, looked at me and in a thick accent said, “It will be OK. He said what he said, and people say what they say, and that is reality—but it will be OK.” So then, of course, I felt guilty for barging in on him and laying my white guilt on him. But I was profoundly moved by his sense of calm in the midst of what feels to me like a storm that has no discernible end. And while I do believe ultimately, he is right, it will be OK, I am finding it a little hard to see right now. Though seeing such grace and courage in the face of someone who would seem to have much to fear, felt like a glimmer of hope.
So what do we do? I think we do what we are doing now—we gather—we mourn together—we pray—we support each other. We remember that our call as Christians is to seek and serve Christ in all people and respect the dignity of every human being. Our call is to be agents of God’s peace and justice in a broken and hurting world; specifically to care for the lost, the poor, the lonely, the weak, the sick, the stranger, the immigrant, the outcast. To recognize that all, without exception, are beloved children of God. And it is to mirror the self-giving love of the One who was willing to die rather than meet hate with hate, violence with violence, and who would not capitulate to the power mad systems of the world. This is the work we have given to do—and there is a lot of it. We may very well be called upon in the coming months and years to walk paths we did not think we would have to walk and do things we could not imagine ourselves doing. That is the way of discipleship. And we will find the strength to do it together because while Good Friday is hard upon us right now, we are an Easter people. A people of courage and hope. A people who know that, especially when things seem bleak, when darkness seems to have settled in, that good, God, always has the last word.