Emma, a beautiful soul I have been blessed to share life with, has graciously allowed me to share her post with you today. May you find it as stirring as I do. You can follow Emma's blog here.
This morning I woke up late. I knew I was going to be running behind from the start. But before I could force myself to get out of bed and face Monday, I heard little feet down the hall and a little voice say my name as Judah poked his curly head around my door. I needed to get moving. I was going to be late to class. I didn’t care. Not today. Today I scooped him into bed with me and held him in my arms just a little tighter and a little longer. Because today, someone’s little brother, someone’s baby, isn’t coming home from a music festival. Today, like so many days, I held his little hands and I worried about the world he is to grow up in.
This world is so heavy, And the heaviness breaks my heart and weighs on my spirit day in and day out. As my spiritual director and dear friend Tessi has been teaching me, I am trying to walk barefoot through the realities of the world. Each heartbreak, each joy, each moment deserves to be felt with such exquisitely painful vulnerability. But that means I have to feel everything… Not just the soft, spring grass but the sharp rocks and the thorns as well. Everything.
I have to feel it when half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled what can only be called an ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. I have to feel it when the rest of the world seems to be able to casually ignore their plight.
I have to feel it when black people are murdered by those meant to protect and serve. I have to feel it when a mother teaches her son how not to get shot if he gets pulled over. I have to feel it when time after time there is no justice for black lives. I have to feel it when people hurl insults at kneeling protesters, putting more passion into defending a flag than defending those that flag has never truly represented.
I have to feel it when literal KKK members and Nazis openly rally in 2017, calling for white supremacy and inciting violence. I have to feel it when people I know and love defend their right to do so. I have to feel it when the President assumes that some of them are “Very fine people.”
I have to feel it when millions of refugees are displaced, without hope, having lost everything. I have to feel it when mothers put their children on boats in the middle of the night, hoping that they will reach safety…or that the sea will at least be more merciful than the death that awaits them on the shore. I have to feel it when they risk everything just to be met with hatefulness, fear and bigotry.
I have to feel it when thousands upon thousands lose their lives, their homes, their loved ones to hurricanes and earthquakes and floods. I have to feel it while they struggle to rebuild what was lost with the eyes of the world upon them.
I have to feel it when politicians and leaders are hateful and spiteful in the face of tragedy. I have to feel it when they call their own people names and sling blame in the direction of those struggling. I have to feel it when they close borders, silence protesters and deport good, hardworking believers in the American Dream.
I have to feel it when my own family and friends fall into the trap (myself included) and spew the same vitriol, choosing to place politics over people and being right over being loving.
I have to feel it with every heartbreak, every act of division, every senseless loss of life, every hateful word…but I choose to feel it all. I choose to continue walking, feeling the pain mingled with the blessings, the sorrow with the joy. I choose to sow the good things and water those seeds with the tears I shed for the bad. It is in this way we honor the loss and it is in this way we turn the mundane into the divine.
Now here is how we grow in forward motion. Pause. Breathe. Feel. Listen. Understand that the lived experiences of others will differ from yours and respect that. Understand that not everything is black and white or two sided. Understand you may be wrong. Understand that they are beloved Children of God. Understand that you are to be Christ’s light in any and ALL situations. And then we move.
Where they build walls, we build bridges. Where they close borders, we will open our homes. Where they tell us to be afraid, we will invite our neighbors in without fear. Where they spread hate, we show love. Where there is darkness, we shine through it all with a light that isn’t our own. And when they say to be still….we keep walking forward.
“The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it.” John 1:5