Faithful

At my yearly check-up a few weeks ago my doctor found a mass in my abdomen.  The discovery was followed by X-rays and then an ultrasound and finally a CT scan.  I was pretty scared.  It turned out to be nothing, though.   All the various scans came back saying there was “nothing of interest in the location of the mass.”

It’s weird.  The mass is still there (Jason can feel it) but nothing shows up on the scans.   Strange, right?  My friend, Shane, thinks its a mochi ball.  I’d like  to say that I was very zen about the whole thing and totally chill during those anxious days of waiting.  I wasn’t, though.  I vacillated between “it’s probably nothing” and total hysteria.

My new glasses were supposed to be arriving in the mail and I kept wondering if I would end up wearing them.  You know, if I had cancer. Because who cares about new glasses when you have freaking cancer, right?   I know, I know.  So maudlin and melodramatic. 

But I don’t have cancer.  Not today anyway and to say that I’m grateful is obviously an understatement.   I read this recently in My Bright Abyss and resonated with Wiman’s notion of definite beliefs and what they enable one to withstand…

“Definite beliefs are what make the radical mystery — those moments when we suddenly know there is a God, about whom we “know” absolutely nothing — accessible to us and our ordinary, unmysterious lives.  And more crucially: definite beliefs enable us to withstand the storms of suffering that come into every life, and that tend to destroy any spiritual disposition that does not have deep roots.”

 

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I once thought that having “definite beliefs” would mean that if I one day found myself with cancer, I would believe without a doubt that God would heal me.  Or, at the very least, that God would “have a plan” and that my cancer or illness would somehow be part of that grand plan.  But my theology has shifted and taken a different shape over the years and my experience this month has revealed a new sort of “definite belief.”  I didn’t necessarily think that God would save me.  And I didn’t think that this was part of some divine plan.  But I did believe that God would be faithful.

Faithful to heal me?  Not necessarily.   Faithful to somehow make it ok for me and for Jason and the boys?   No, I don’t think it would have been ok.   But still I believed that God would be faithful.  God is faithful.  And those words kept bubbling to the surface during that week of waiting.  God is faithful; faithful to draw near and extend over me a banner of love.  And I’m praying the roots of that belief go deep enough to sustain me through whatever storms of suffering may one day come.

My Top 10 Books

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Did you all see that Facebook challenge a few weeks ago?  The one where you list the 10 most memorable/influential books of your life?   You know, and then you tag 3 people and challenge them to post their own top 10.  I really enjoyed checking out all those lists and although technically  nobody challenged me, I decided to come up with my top 10 anyway!
I tag… myself.   It’s ok, I’ve never been the cool kid on the block.  But I’ve been mulling it over and finally narrowed down my list.

Here are my ten… **

Harry Potter

I started reading the series in 2006 right after the 6th book came out.  So I was a little late to the party but still got to enjoy the immense hype leading up to the release of the 7th and final book.   It’s a little fuzzy now but I’m pretty sure I signed my name on the “I trust Severus Snape” website.  Anyway, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what gripped me so with this series.  I loved Harry from page 1 and really all of the rich and wonderful characters created by Rowling.  I particularly enjoyed the exploration of choice in the novels and how a person might, at any moment, choose to make different choices and thus change the trajectory of their life.  Even if there is a prophecy spelling out how you will perhaps save the world from evil or a Sorting Hat that tells you where you belong, you can make a different choice.  This particular exploration is one that has informed my theology over the years and continues to fascinate me, as you’ll see with my other book choices below.

We also named our son, Gryffin, after Gryffindor House; the house for the courageous.  A griffin is a mythical creature – half lion, half eagle – and in the Middle Ages was often found on church buildings as a symbol of the dual nature of Christ.  King of the air and king of the land.  I mean, come on, JESUS and HARRY POTTER?  Can’t beat that!   The whole HP series is full of symbolic names and beings and I enjoyed the intrigue and digging around for the deeper meanings.

Some Favorite Quotes

“It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”Dumbledore

“It’s the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”Dumbledore

 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I think this beautiful book stood out to me in particular because I read it as an adult and therefore already knew all that Maya Angelou had gone on to become.  The prose is captivating and it gives light to something that was otherwise dark and suffocating — an amazing gift.

Some Favorite Quotes

“The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic admiration.”

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

 

The Brothers K

I’ve already written about the Brothers K and my admiration of the author, David James Duncan, so I won’t rehash it all here.   I wish I could include the entire excerpt of Kincaid’s dream about the kingdom of God but it’s much too long so I pulled out just a small piece of it…

“The truth is, I’d never been in a place less like a church, and can hardly say what a relief this was…  I picked up the plainest thing I could find – a pebble – and popped it in my mouth, started clunking it around… cautiously at first, then harder and harder, and was amazed to discover as I crushed in into sand, then into mush, that my teeth were like industrial diamonds and my jaws were like a vise. I felt like Paul Bunyan, hell, I felt like Superman – and just the pleasure of such godlike chewing got me so excited that when the pebble-mush began melting and turned out to taste better than the best chocolate in the world, it seemed like a waste somehow.  I mean, I swallowed it anyway, but I sensed as it was going down that the special quality, the joy that had been in the taste, couldn’t go down with it. It just wouldn’t fit inside me. There was simply no way to squeeze a thing so vast and heavenly into a container as small and earthly as myself.

 

The Hiding Place

I think I’ve read this book 5 or 6 times.   It’s the true story of Corrie ten Boom and her family in Holland during WWII.  I think I like it in part because the ten Booms seem so ordinary and humdrum but when they were presented with genuine life or death choices, they were brave and their faith proved to be the bedrock they always believed it to be.  It’s not that I wish to be faced with such danger and hardship but sometimes I think my life lacks urgency.   The faith of Corrie’s father and sister, in particular, who both died in the concentration camps, stands out to me and has always buoyed my own faith.

A Favorite Quote

“No pit is so deep that God’s love  is not deeper still.”

 

The Giver

I read this one in college and I’ve read it 2 or 3 times since.  Like, Harry Potter, it deals with the concepts of choice and free will and although it’s technically “young adult fiction,” it never fails to shake up my thinking.   I often find myself believing that it might just be easier if God preordained everything in our lives.  It just feels like might be easier to understand if it were so.   I was in a terrible car crash in college but walked away essentially unscathed.  Will of God.  I was tested a few years ago for MS but my scans came back clear.  God’s plan.  I have a new job because God ordained that it should be so.   Scored a sweet parking spot today when I picked Isaiah up from school.   Thank you, LORD.   See what I’m saying?  But my theology and my understanding of God runs into trouble here because I then must also contend with the person who didn’t walk away from the car crash; the one whose MRI’s didn’t come back clear, and the friend who has been job hunting for two years.

Reading The Giver always brings me back to a place where I feel ok (or a little better at least) with the mystery of it all.  The mysterious dance of God’s will and human choice.

A Favorite Quote

“Now he saw another elephant emerge from the place where it had stood hidden in the trees. Very slowly it walked to the mutilated body and looked down. With its sinuous trunk it struck the huge corpse; then it reached up, broke some leafy branches with a snap, and draped them over the mass of torn thick flesh. Finally it tilted its massive head, raised its trunk, and roared into the empty landscape.”

 

East of Eden

Still working out my theology of free will!   This one by John Steinbeck fascinates me, like Harry Potter and The Giver, for it’s examination of choice and human free will.   The story winds all about and gets pretty “dark & twisty”at times but we learn so much about ourselves and God in the process.  Each character has choices to make, and while some seem stuck and destined to remain the same, we get to see the ways that their choices impact their lives and the lives of the other people around them.

A Favorite Quote

“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.”

 

Finding Fish

The memoir of Antwone Quenton Fisher.  He was a foster baby from day 1 after his mother gave birth in prison and his father was murdered.  He recounts his life in foster care, particularly the 14 years he spent with the Picketts who abused him in every possible way.   This book shook me up.  I read it before we had the boys and it weighed heavy on me.  I was especially struck by the impact even a small, seemingly infinitesimal, act of kindness can have on a person’s life.

Before I read this book, I thought there was no way I could be a foster parent.  Having to relinquish a child you love has always seemed too great a burden to bear.  But after reading Finding Fish, that feeling changed to ‘how could I not be a foster parent?’   I don’t know what, exactly, this will look like for us but I feel like it’s going to part of our family’s story – and that feeling took root reading Fisher’s book.

“I reach my hands up and out, as if that can stop my getting wetter, and open my mouth, trying to swallow the downpour, till it finally hits me how funny it is, my trying to stop the rain.”

 

Cold Sassy Tree

Written by Olive Ann Burns.   It’s set in Georgia circa 1906 and is told from the perspective of 14-year-old Will Tweedy.  It gives such a colorful depiction of life in their fictional town and probes social taboos, death, and religion.  The writing is absolutely wonderful and I remember my parents reading the book out loud to one another on a road trip once.   I can still hear them laughing.

“It was like he didn’t hear the silence that greeted them and didn’t see Mama go pale or Aunt Loma flounce out of the parlor and down the hall, handling the baby so rough he woke up squalling.  Grandpa walked in like it was the usual thing to go off and get a new young wife before your old wife is cold in the grave.  Like it never dawned on him anybody would mind.”

 

Charms for the Easy Life

Oh man, the character of the grandma in this book is so well done.  She is a hoot.   The book is set in backwoods North Carolina in the mid-1900s and centers on the lives of 3 generations of women living in the same house.  Charlie Kate is the grandmother and she is a self-taught midwife/healer/dentist/you name it.   I was so captivated by the story and felt a sort of longing to be part of their brood.

A Favorite Quote

“What is most fascinating with regard to her dentistry is that she would put women patients under, but work on the men as is.  She believed that although women, as a rule, could stand more pain and take more punishment than men, they should not have to and would not ever suffer under her care….The degree to which a woman looked tired in the face dictated the amount of chloroform she received, and sometimes when my grandmother recognized that a woman was too taxed by her life, she did her the favor of knocking her out to the point that she couldn’t neither lift her head nor say her name the rest of the day.”

 

My Bright Abyss: Meditation of  a Modern Believer

I feel like I’m cheating a little bit with this one because I haven’t actually finished it!  But I’ve been reading it for the last year and it has had such a potent and profound impact that I have to include it here.   It’s difficult for me to put into words what this book has meant to me.  Have you ever read something and just felt like the author gets you?  Like their soul speaks the same language as yours?   Yeah, I know, that’s maybe a tad  too effusive, but this book speaks to me and it speaks to my faith and it has made me feel less alone.

A few excerpts

“When I assented to the faith that was latent within me — and I phrase it carefully, deliberately, for there was no white light, no ministering or avenging angel that tore my life in two; rather it seemed as if the tiniest seed of belief had finally flowered in me, or, more accurately, as if I had happened upon some rare flower deep in the desert and had known, though I was just then discovering it, that it had been blooming impossibly year after parched year in me, surviving all the seasons of my unbelief.”

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“Christ, though, is a shard of glass in your gut.  Christ is God crying I am here, and here not only in what exalts and completes and uplifts you, but here in what appalls, offends, and degrades you, here in what activates and exacerbates all that you would call not-God.”

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“There are definitely times when we must suffer God’s absence, when we are called to enter the dark night of the soul in order to pass into some new understanding of God, some deeper communion with him and with all creation.  But this is very rare, and for the most part our dark nights of the soul are, in a way that is more pathetic than tragic, wishful thinking.  God is not absent.  He is everywhere in the world we are too dispirited to love.”

 

Traveling Mercies

There are so many things I like about this book.  Anne Lamott is the kind of writer I aspire to be.  I’ve read nearly all her work and I think she is at her absolute best with non-fiction.  She is vulnerable and brave with what she writes.  With regard to her faith, I appreciate that she’s willing to say the things you might think but wouldn’t dream of saying out loud yet she remains stalwart in her beliefs.   Her conversion story has always stood out to me as compelling and genuine and just the honest truth of how it happened.

Some Favorite Quotes

“F@#$ it.  I quit.  All right, Jesus, You can come in.”

“The depth of the feeling continued to surprise and threaten me, but each time it hit again and I bore it…I would discover that it hadn’t washed me away.”

 ——
**Yes, yes, I know, that’s actually 11 books.  It’s alright. I’m a writer, not a mathematician.

Oh, and I tag all of you.   Let’s see some more lists!  If it’s too daunting to select the most influential, just tell me one or two that stand out in your mind as memorable.

 

But Now I Am Six!

I told Jason a few days ago that sometimes parenting with him feels like our own private version of “anything you can do, I can do better.”  If I have a Saturday alone with the boys, I might do something special.  Like, you know, make a coffee cake for breakfast.  Or take the boys on an “adventure walk” which is really just a fancy way of saying “a walk where we look for things.”

But if Jason has a Saturday alone with the boys?  He takes them on the freaking ferry to Bainbridge Island where he then pulls them in the bike trailer to the Bloedel Gardens and all around the island, ending of course with a trip to the ice cream shop.

If I write a note to put in Gryffin’s lunchbox, I might put a few friendly lines about how excited I am to see him at the end of the day and how I can’t wait to hear about P.E.  But if Jason writes the note?  It includes a story with characters and personalized illustrations.

When I put the boys to bed, it’s PJs, teeth, books, bed.  17 minutes, tops.  When Jason puts them to bed, they usually rough-house and wrestle for a while and then he wraps up the evening with this ongoing saga that he has been making up every night for the last six months.   The three of them lay in bed together as he tells them that night’s adventure of boPeep the mouse facing down enemies like Volde-Bear and SauronSheep.

I mean, really.  It’s hard to keep up with this guy.  We make a good team, though, so I let it slide.

Most years I write a post for the boys’ birthdays.  But this year for Gryffin’s birthday, Jason was up to his sneaky ways again.  He’s been letting me think that I’m the writer in the family but now I know the truth.  There he is.  AGAIN.  It’s annoying, really.

Nonetheless, here’s his prayer for Gryffin’s 6th birthday.  It’s good, no?

———————–

Six years ago you came into this world: curled-up, tiny, helpless.
Given by God, we were overjoyed.
No turning of fall would ever be the same,
for it was on a crisp blue day we brought you home.

You have been named after something mythic, half lion and half eagle,
an animal brave and mighty.
But also an animal that is two things at once,
as Jesus is, stretching between humanity and God,
and as we are, rooted to earth and awed to heaven.

You are no longer helpless, be instead helpful.
You are no longer tiny, be instead huge in your love.
You are no longer curled up, be instead stretched up to God and out to others.
You are, however, still covered by our joy and given this day by the Three-in-One.

———————–

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Happy Birthday, Gryffin.  We do love you so (and the SAME AMOUNT, btw.  For the record, I am totally  fun.   Just, you know, in a different way.  Plus I birthed you.  SO THERE).
———-

Other Birthday Posts

Birthdays Make Me Sad
They Say It’s Your Birthday!
On the Occasion of Your 3rd Birthday, the Bombings in Boston and Other Awful Things

 

 

 

Weekend Worthy

Worth your time from around the web this week…

Asking the Wrong Question
Asking why Janay stays with an abusive husband is as appalling to me as asking whether or not Mike Brown stole some cigarillos.   #NotThePoint

Honestly, I had never even heard of Ray Rice before this week.  I don’t watch football and I don’t think I could name a single NFL player.  But the way we have responded to this is astounding.  Does Janay need to get her sh#* together?  Probably.  But that’s not what we should be talking about.  We should be talking about the fact that Rice punched her so hard that he knocked her out.

Do you know how hard you have to hit someone to knock them out?   I have two boys and both of them, at different times, have fallen down an entire flight of stairs, hitting their heads multiple times on the way down.  Weren’t knocked out, though.  The older one fell backwards off a stool once and landed head-first on concrete.  Wasn’t knocked out, though.   And one time I lunged to catch Isaiah before he toppled backward off the couch only to have my arm accidentally act as a hinge behind his knees causing him to flip upside down onto his head on the hardwood.  Wasn’t knocked out.

Add to this one act of violence the undoubted dozens that have gone before it, the cover ups by the higher-ups, questioning the victim in front of her abuser, the 42 million other women in our country who experience rape and physical abuse at the hands of their partners every year and how we have irrevocably indicted ourselves with our response.  It’s overwhelming.

Ravens running back Ray Rice is planning to address the media at 3 p.m. Friday for the first time since he was charged with knocking

 

Different Rules Apply
A story about the different rules that apply based on our race.   A longer one but it’s worth the read.

“I went home. The other guy didn’t.
That’s white privilege.”

 

Female Socialization
Speaks for itself.  I read this several weeks ago and it has stayed with me.

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Guy who couldn’t get a single call back changed one letter on his resume and the phone started ringing.

Oily Hair and Frazzled Nerves

I don’t know what is going on with me.  I’m sort of embarrassed to admit it but… this kindergarten sitch has been hard for me, y’all!   I’ve had two nearly sleepless nights and I’ve felt generally anxious all week.  Then this morning, after tossing and turning yet again last night, I put oil that is meant for my skin into my hair.

Part of the problem is that I can’t quite pinpoint what I’m feeling.  Am I just sad?  Am I worried about something in particular?   Am I unsettled by all the change to our daily routine?

Yes.  The answer is yes to all of the above.

I’m sad.

Jason and I are both feeling that familiar tinge of melancholy that comes when your kid crosses over some sort of threshold.  They are usually crossing over to something new and exciting (walking or talking, say) and you are left to mourn what was left behind alone.  Why would Gryffin care that he used to sling his arm around my neck, just so, when he was a baby when there is an entire world to explore now that he can run and jump and dance?

It’s an inevitable part of this gig, I guess, and we’ve made it through many, many milestones in the past.  This just feels different somehow.  It marks the beginning of a more considerable cleaving and it hurts.

This morning, day 3, Gryffin asked eagerly if we had any fun plans for the day.  It took a full minute before it dawned on him that he wouldn’t be here today; that he had to go to school again.   When he realized it, he seemed sad and happy both.  Sad to miss out on a day with his brother but happy that he got to go to school.

And that’s how I feel.  I’m so happy that he likes school thus far.  What a relief.  I know that many parents can’t say the same and I’m grateful.  But I’m still sad.  And I’m trying to just leave it at that.

I’m worried.

This is such new territory that I can barely keep up with all of the things that I’m worried about!  I know that he is fine.  I do.  Promise.  But c’mon, preschool was a classroom of 12 kids with 2 teachers.  It was all in one big room and I pulled my car up right outside the door.

Now we’ve got 20+ kids, 1 teacher, the hallway that never ends, mohawk kid, lunchtime, recess, music class, technology time, assemblies and who knows what else.  I don’t know when he eats lunch or goes outside to play.  I don’t know who this music teacher is or where they do technology time.   I stood outside the wrong door yesterday at afternoon pickup and by the time I found Gryffin, he was crying.    Sheesh, what isn’t there to worry about?

I’m unsettled.

You all know that I like to be in control.   With this new school schedule, a new work situation for me, Isaiah going back to preschool on Monday meaning 2 drop offs and 2 pick ups a day, it’s bound to ruffle my feathers a little.  We’ll settle in here soon enough.  In the meantime, would you all please excuse my oily hair?  It looks like it’s gonna take a girl a few weeks to get things back on track!

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Gryffin discovering some doughnuts in his backpack on the first morning — hidden there by Jason

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We made Gryffin a Rust Family Membership Card, with what it means to be a Rust on the back.

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And he’s off!

 

Weekend Worthy

Worth your time from around the web this week…

 

Give Us New Eyes
Shane Claiborne and a friend visit #Ferguson

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Don’t Talk about Ferguson or Mike Brown
A school district in Illinois orders teachers to ignore any and all discussions/comments/questions about Ferguson and Mike Brown.  This is why systemic racism continues to fester in our country.

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12  Ways to Be a White Ally to Black People
Looking for ways to take some action?  Want to educate yourself?  This is a good place to start.

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This Doesn’t Happen to White People
I was really moved by Norwood’s story and hearing what it’s been like to be in her skin for 54 years.

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St. Paul Police Tase and Arrest Man for Sitting in Skyway
This is a story from earlier this year.  The sound of this guy’s voice is devastating, especially around minute 2.  This would never have happened to Jason -I’m sure of that.

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Other posts related to #Ferguson

Mordecai’s Call
Langston Hughes on #Ferguson
Misplaced Imagining
A Song of Lament

 

Looking Backward, Looking Forward

Yesterday was Gryffin’s Kindergarten Open House.  We went to his school, got his class assignment and then walked down what has to be the longest hallway in the world  to his room.   He walked between me and Jason, holding our hands.  I kept trying to catch Jason’s eye over Gryffin’s head but he stared resolutely ahead.   They both seemed anxious.

Earlier this week we had gone to a “kindergarten play date” for incoming kindergarteners at the school and it was… well, it was kinda bad, y’all.

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There was a row of maybe 10-12 adults standing in the shade when we pulled up, kids running back and forth to the play structure.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Approaching the row of parents I looked around for the person in charge.  Who was running this shindig?  Was somebody making introductions, making connections, getting folks settled?  I saw a large cooler near one mom.  Were there drinks inside?  Popsicles, maybe?

But nobody said hello.  Not one person.  Nobody even made eye contact.  They all just kept talking with one another while we stood there.  I looked around, trying to make eye contact with someone, anyone, looking to find a way to break into a conversation but no dice.  Finally I said to the boys,

“Well… you want to go play?”

Gryffin, ever timid in new situations, asked if I would come over to the play structure with him.

So the three of us walked over to the playground together.  I was the only parent in the raised bed of bark but no big deal.  I figured I’d get them settled and then bravely walk my poor introverted heart back to the group of adults who were apparently hellbent on recreating my Junior High lunch period from 1991.

Just when I thought they were ready to venture out to play, though, a kid with a mohawk – an actual mohawk, not a faux hawk – ran over next to Isaiah and said,

“Move!  I want to jump there!  You’re in my way!”

And of course, that was that.

Isaiah jumped swiftly aside and announced that he wanted to go home.

“Me, too,” said Gryff.

“Swell,” I said.

I walked them back over to the row of parents, determined to make some sort of inroad, but I just couldn’t do it.  I didn’t have the energy to force my way into a conversation with both boys hanging on me.  I suddenly felt exhausted.   I suggested, instead, that we walk over to the main building and check things out.  I figured I could work on my nerve while we took a little walk and then maybe we’d come back and try again.  But Gryffin begged me to take him home and by the time we pulled up at the house, he was in tears.

We had built up to that playdate for so long.  Gryffin had been so eager to check out his new school and meet some of his “new friends.”  I couldn’t help but feel like I had failed him somehow.

So when the Open House rolled around later in the week, we were feeling fiercely protective of him.    We wanted so much for him to walk away from that Open House excited about his classroom and his teacher and ready for this new world awaiting him.  And I’m happy to report that he did.  He met his teacher, explored his classroom at length and came home keen for the first day.  Mission accomplished.

But by bedtime last night, was in tears.  I know, I know, I know.  Countless parents have walked this road before me and lived to tell the tale.  He’ll be fine.  He’s going to love it.  He’s ready.  How sad we would be if he weren’t able to go to school and blah blah blah.  I know.  

But still.  The anticipation of a thing is always harder than the thing itself.  And right now I’m anticipating Gryffin being gone for over 6 hours every day.  I’m anticipating him walking down that endless hallway.  I’m anticipating mohawk kid.  I’m anticipating my tiny boy with a huge backpack trying to fit in, trying to make friends, looking around the lunch room for somewhere to sit (lord have mercy), and figuring out part of who he is in the world without us.

Mostly though?

Mostly, I’m going to miss him.

I’m going to miss my boy.  Because ultimately, I don’t know what lies ahead.  I don’t know what this new chapter of our lives is going to look like.  Not yet.  All I know is what’s behind me.  And it was pretty grand.

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Race/Off

Oh, Jon Stewart.  How you make me laugh.  But you know, you’ve also absolutely  nailed it on the points that matter.

Yes, yes, he takes his usual jabs at Fox News, Sean Hannity and the like, but here are few of Stewart’s more serious lines from this Daily Show excerpt…

“Imagine…on a pretty consistent basis that you cannot get a $#@-ing cab, even though you’re a neurosurgeon, because you’re black.”

“I guarantee you that every person of color in this country has faced an indignity, from the ridiculous to the grotesque to the sometimes fatal at some point in their… I’m gonna say last couple of hours”

And his closing story about the white producer and the black correspondent walking into a building in NYC for an interview.  The white guy was dressed like a “homeless elf” with a scraggly 5 o’clock shadow while the black guy was dressed in a tailored suit.  Guess who was stopped?

“Race is there.  It’s a constant.  You’re tired of hearing about it?  Imagine how f#@-ing exhausting it is living it?

Nicely done, Jon Stewart.  And thanks for the laugh, too.

Other posts related to #Ferguson

Mordecai’s Call
Langston Hughes on #Ferguson
Misplaced Imagining
A Song of Lament

#LastWords

Shirin Barghi is a journalist, filmmaker, and the founder of Humans of Tehran.  She created these images following the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson and I find them gripping.  Heartbreaking.

Do you know that from 2006-2012, two black people died at the hands of white police every week.  Isn’t that staggering?

I know that some of my white friends (particularly from my past) are worried that I’ve “gone liberal” over the years and jumped on the bandwagon and possibly even lost my faith.  I want you to know, though, that my thoughts and opinions on the issue of race* in the U.S. stem directly from my faith, not simply from so-called liberal media or the influence of Seattle and NPR.

All those things do influence me, as they influence you, but it’s my faith that informs me most.  It’s the call to love mercy and to do justly that sets the rhythms and the patterns of my life.  I share them here on my blog and elsewhere so that we can dialogue a little, walk together, sharpen one another and inspire each other.   It’s probably a pipe dream but I also write so that someday Shirin Barghi won’t have further inspiration for her #lastwords art.  Take a look…

 

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Other posts related to #Ferguson

Mordecai’s Call
Langston Hughes on #Ferguson
Misplaced Imagining
A Song of Lament

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*And those other pesky topics, like, you know, guns and women and men and what not.

Mordecai’s Call

You all know that I’ve been thinking about Missouri and it’s encircling issues virtually non-stop the past couple weeks.  Are you tired of my incessant writing about it?  I’m weary with it today myself.  I’m feeling weighted down and fatigued.  There are so many narratives involved and so many voices to hear; so much history brought to bear and an overwhelming amount of anguish and grief.  There’s one thread, in particular, though, that continues to press in on me this afternoon and I find that I must write still more.

 

ferguson

I’ve been so proud of my local church family for talking about it and praying about it and challenging ourselves to step up and to speak out and to take risks.  But I’m starting to feel like our church is in some sort of echo chamber of our own making.  Where are the other voices?  Where are the voices of the people of my past?  My childhood friends?  My college friends?  I grew up in almost exclusively Christian circles and I attended a Christian college.  Where is the voice of the collective  church?   How can we not speak out about the injustices we’re seeing in Missouri and throughout the US?

Do you remember the story of Esther in the Old Testament?   It takes place in Persia in the fifth century.  Esther becomes the Queen after catching the King’s eye.  But not long after taking her seat on the throne, a genocide is planned.   It is declared that on the 13th of the month anyone in the empire is free to massacre the Jews and take their property.

What the King does not know is that his Queen is also Jewish.  Esther had kept it a secret.  Sneaky gal.

When he heard the news, Ether’s uncle, Mordecai, begged her to intercede on behalf of her people.   This is what he said:

If you keep quiet at a time like this,
deliverance and relief for the Jews
will arise from some other place,
but you and your relatives will die.
Who knows if perhaps you were made queen
for just such a time as this?”

Mordecai called her out.  Esther was in a position of immense power and privilege as Queen and Mordecai challenged her.  He challenged her to raise her voice on behalf of those whose voices weren’t being heard.   She was probably tempted to say nothing so that she, too, would not be executed.  Who wouldn’t be?  She was probably afraid.  Again, who wouldn’t be?  But Mordecai called on his niece to be brave.  He called on her to use her position and her power as Queen to agitate for justice and to cry out for mercy for the Jews.

We, too, have to answer the call of Mordecai.  We, too, are in a position of power and boundless advantage as the dominant culture.  And if you are like me, you are probably tempted to keep silent.  To say nothing.

But Mordecai’s call is for us.  If we keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the African American people of the United States will arise from some other place, but we will die in the process.  Metaphorically or literally, I don’t know.   Let’s be brave like Esther.   Let’s be brave and raise our voices together.  Perhaps we were put here, in this time and in this country, for just such a time as this.

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Looking for some helpful articles to read this weekend as you ponder all this?
This might be helpful.
And this.
And this.
Plus this.
Oh, and this, too.