Day 18: What I Want for My Children {31 Days of #WOKE}

 

I want my children to be the stranger sometimes, too.

I want their ears flooded with the music of other tongues.

I want them to be speechless as they smash into unfamiliar sights, smells, tastes and sounds.

I want them to experience being the minority.

I want their friendships saturated with color.

I want them to sit in a foreign living room drinking milk tea and wonder if they’re doing it right.

I want them to always err on the side of generosity.

I want them to know their country is not the center or the best, but one equal square in the world’s quilt.

I want them to make room at the table.

I want them to speak up for the voiceless, the invisible and the excluded.

I want them to absorb the pain of others.

I want them to splash in the thrill of creating like the Creator.

I want them to feel funny, smart, beautiful, creative and respected without needing to be.

I want them to be brave, bold, confident and strong.

I want them to surrender to the discipline of discomfort, allowing it to uproot pride and demolish their assumptions.

I want them to die to themselves.

I want them to love the sacred song of stillness.

I want them to understand how history impacts them and their neighbor.

I want them to speak light into another person’s darkness.

I want them to be undone by the suffering of others, but empowered by their own suffering.

I want them to serve quietly, but persistently.

I want them to know the Jesus who died for the ungodly, served the undeserving and shattered fear, hopelessness, anxiety through defeating death.

I want them to be free—unhindered, unshackled and unfettered.

I want them to be understood, known and satisfied.

I want them to love extravagantly, for they are extravagantly loved.

 

New to the Series? Start HERE (though you can jump in at any point!).

A 31 Day Series Exploring Whiteness and Racial Perspectives

During the month of March, 2017, I will be sharing a series called 31 Days of #Woke. I’ll be doing some personal excavating of views of race I’ve developed through being in schools that were under court order to be integrated, teaching in an all black school as well as in diverse classrooms in Chicago and my experiences of whiteness living in Uganda and China. I’ll also have some people of color share their views and experiences of race in the United States (I still have some open spots, so contact me if you are a person of color who wants to share). So check back and join in the conversation. You are welcome in this space.

I want my children to be the stranger sometimes, too. I want their ears flooded with the music of other tongues. I want them to be speechless as they smash into unfamiliar sights, smells, tastes and sounds. I want them to experience being the minority.

 

 

Loving After Trump {for Mudroom}

 

I was one of the 19 percent. Nineteen percent of voting white evangelical Christians did not choose Donald J. Trump to be president. And, like most non-Trump supporters, I spent the first days after the election in grief and fear over what a Trump America would look like. The morning after the election, I was shocked the sun still shone, my infant son still grinned at me nearly bursting with joy, and the blue sky dared be so blue.

As a Christian woman, I felt betrayed. I couldn’t bring myself to attend church that Sunday out of fear the service would be business-as-usual. People of color were suddenly tweeting out of their wounds, such as African American sister Yolanda Pierce’s tweet: “White evangelicals: you’ve decisively proven that you love your whiteness more than you love your black & brown brothers & sisters in Christ.” (Yolanda Pierce @YNPierce Nov 8).

I feared being tainted by association.

As a writer, I needed to write it all out. I wanted to add my voice to the cacophony of noise rising in volume. Like the catharsis of screaming into an on-coming train, I wanted my voice to be swallowed by the anger, fear and grief of the voices on the internet.

But I read some words¹ that morning from a wise old king that tempered my impulse.

“Tremble [with anger or fear], and do not sin;
Meditate [speak] in your heart upon your bed, and be still.

Selah [Pause].

I needed to pause, breathe and exhale. If I had spoken, it would have been out of hate, not love. Anger, not activism. Bitterness, not hope. My lament was too raw, too tender.
I desperately wanted to do something. The next words I read suggested this paradox:

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in the Lord.

In other words: before doing, first die. What are the sacrifices of righteousness? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control. This response conflicts with every impulse, feeling and emotion I have right now. I don’t want to love a man who uses fear as a motivator and hate as power’s fuel. And I don’t want to trust a God who would allow evil to win.

But I will put down my sword. Loving right now is counter-cultural, revolutionary, even.

Sounds like Someone else I know.

And so I trust not in our president, Congress, the media, the hundreds of articles debating fact and fiction or even in myself. I lean on the One who spoke everything out of nothing. The One who whispered words into my womb and molded a little life. The One who brings down nations and kingdoms, but also coaxes the butterfly out of its chrysalis. The One who outwitted death, sadness, evil and despair with pure, exquisite, soul-washing love.

We raise high the banner words spoken by Desmund Tutu: “We are a resurrection people.” In death, we live on…

continue reading at The Mudroom

 

Mourning and the Duty to Delight


A collective heaviness is caving in on us.  With terrorism striking even holy Islamic sites, countries advising their citizens not to travel to the U.S. or wear traditional clothing here, many churches and Christian institutions now urging their members to rush out to get concealed carry permits, and people of color afraid to leave their homes lest they be pulled over for a driving infraction only to be shot in cold blood, fear has become an epidemic.
Fear is creeping in, over, through, and around us and its darkness is strangling the light.  Can you feel it?
Civilians cower in a society where we are vulnerable to being gunned down even in shopping malls, movie theaters, night clubs, peaceful protests, church prayer meetings and elementary schools.

Officers who have vowed to protect, defend and secure our safety are murdered, but cringe when they hear of yet another cop that has dragged their once heroic reputation into the mire. 

Politicians bumble along with empty words.

People of color cry out “See! Do you see NOW?  When are you going to get it?”

Some white people are learning to live with new-found sight and are begging for something to DO (which, if we’re honest, feels about as useful as dad putting the proverbial pot of water on to boil while the woman writhes in labor pains).
And the majority of whites still choose to log out of Facebook and news apps or switch off the T.V. to ignore what only makes them feel powerless and guilty, because “What can I, a stay-at-home mom, financial advisor, or construction worker actually do to help anyway?”
We are grasping for an elusive hope, wrestling with despair and choking for fresh air.  We either let anger crush us or we take the easy way out and run away, hide and pretend the suffering doesn’t exist.  I know.  I’m a recovering runaway myself.   
But there is another way.
Gregory Boyle is an American Jesuit priest who has spent the past 25 years working in one of the most gang-riddled areas of the United States.  He has buried more than one hundred gang members over the course of his time in L.A.—often just as they have begun to clean up their lives.   He has had every reason to despair and lose hope.  In fact, it was after being diagnosed with cancer that he finally decided to write a book about his experiences.   Yet his memoir, Tattoos on the Heart, includes an entire chapter not on hopelessness, but on delight. 
He says,
“Dorothy Day loved to quote Ruskin, who urged us all to the ‘Duty to Delight.’ It was an admonition, really, to be watchful for the hilarious and heartwarming, the silly and the sublime.  This way will not pass again, and so there is a duty to be mindful of that which delights and keeps joy at the center, distilled from all that happens to us in a day” (p. 148).
I admit that I’ve judged those on social media that have seemed to go on with their daily lives and continue to post pictures of their kid’s messy first-food faces, family vacations, ridiculous memes and silly quotes during a week when much of America has been in mourning.  And yet perhaps this is their way of coping while so much of the world has been paralyzed by grief and fear.
Last week after watching the video of Philando Castile bleeding to death in his car while his fiance’s four-year old daughter sat in the back of the car and a cop’s shaky gun spoke to the world’s horrified onlookers, I found solace not in taking to the streets protesting, writing inflammatory Facebook messages or canvasing my neighborhood with #Blacklivesmatter pamphlets.   
Instead, I eased my 8-month-pregnant body into a lawn chair in our backyard as my two and four-year-old frolicked around shirtless in the silently drifting cottonwood seeds.  My hand on my belly, my unborn son twisted and turned and I amusedly watched my bump ripple with life.  I lay my head back, closed my eyes, and drank in the musical laughter of my innocent children and allowed the summer Colorado sun to press her hot hand on my face.  And just as a duty is sometimes perfunctorily done, I dutifully gave thanks for that solitary moment.        
Thomas Merton writes, “No despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there…”  There is delight to be had.  It is our duty to notice and give thanks for it even when it is the last thing we feel like doing.  It is our duty to delight.
A music director sings this song in dark days,
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at is swelling pride.  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High.  God is in the midst of her, we will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.  The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted.  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.  Selah.”  Psalm 46: 1-7
God is still in our midst.  He is with us.  He is our stronghold.  His streams of gladness cut through our weary land.  Selah.  Pause and rest in that truth.
We have a duty not to run away, bury our heads in the ground or shield ourselves from suffering just because we don’t like how it makes us feel.  How can we love when we have our eyes squeezed shut?  Don’t turn off the news, but sit with it, internalize it, and then talk to God about it.  Is there anything He wants you do?  
It is our duty to see.   
And we have a duty to act when it is in our power to do so.
But we also have a duty to delight.  And it is a beauty-from-ashes kind of delight.  A resurrection song that rings out only as we die to our self-centeredness and the world’s empty promises of peace.  Ours is a peace in spite of, not because of.  It’s a joy that skims along the surface of the storm, catching the wind, riding it and finding that—amazingly–it’s possible not to sink after all.  But this is only through hope in Someone that keeps us from being trampled by fear. 
In the hours before Jesus is crucified, He speaks these words to his followers, “Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you” (Jn. 16:22).
No one.  Nothing.  Will take your joy away from you.  Do you believe that?
Friends, our God is stronger.  Hatred and fear cannot steal our joy, quench our love or extinguish our light.  Our duty is to keep our eyes pried open even in the pain and do what we can in our communities to alleviate suffering and injustice.  But it is also our duty—whether we feel like it our not–to delight.  

~~~

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~~~ 

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"We are grasping for an elusive hope, wrestling with despair and choking for fresh air.  We either let anger crush us or we take the easy way out and run away, hide and pretend the suffering doesn’t exist.  I know.  I’m a recovering runaway myself.      But there is another way..."