Tag Archives: prejudice

God, Neighbor, Self

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I’ve got my hands full…

Most of us don’t plan for a certain day to be our last.   The people who gathered yesterday for services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh most likely did not expect a crazed, evil murderer to invade their midst and open fire, ending some lives and altering others.  A house of worship is supposed to be a safe place.

Schools are supposed to be safe too.  Movie theaters, concert venues, stores, restaurants, all supposedly safe places, have too often in recent years become bloody patches of hallowed ground where innocent people have had their lives stolen by the likes of yesterday’s madman in Pittsburgh.  The kind of hatred and evil required to perpetrate such violence is beyond my understanding.

I feel so many things…sadness, of course.  My heart, brain and stomach all hurt.  And I realized yesterday that, as a Caucasian, Protestant Christian female, I have enjoyed a life of relative privilege and protection.  Aside from the occasional incident of sexual harassment/discrimination (and fat/body shaming), I have lived fairly unafraid of harm most of the time.

My friends who are people of color/LGBT/Jewish/disabled or otherwise not WASPs cannot claim this feeling of safety.  Matthew Shepard’s remains were finally laid to rest this week in a place where his family feels they will be as safe as possible from the risk of desecration.  TWENTY YEARS after his murder.  A friend of a friend attempted to take her life recently, for what specific reasons I am not sure, but I have to believe that her burden of depression is made heavier by her unique concerns as an LGBT person.  I was raised in a house where racial epithets, derogatory terms for those of different sexual orientation, and religious slurs were regularly used, and entire groups of people were judged to be inferior simply because they were different.

Here’s the thing:  Life is precious.  ALL life.  And as precious as life is, it is equally fragile.  For the rest of my life, however long or short it may be, I hope to reinforce the value of the lives of the people I encounter, in every way I can.  I need to love God by loving my neighbor.  I’ll have my hands plenty full trying to manage that.

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Tempest

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It was a dark and stormy night…

After a few weeks of very dry weather, we finally received some rain, accompanied by lightning and thunder. It wasn’t scary, loud thunder that shook my house.  It was more that rumbly, distant kind of thunder that can be relaxing, almost musical, to hear.  I love this kind of storm and the way it can lull me to sleep.  But the other night was a different story.

After trying to sleep for a while with no success, I got out of bed and went downstairs to read for a while.  I thought I might even attempt to write a blog post.  My mind has been both full and empty recently; full of conflicted thoughts and empty of anything worthwhile to write about.  At least, it has felt that way.

As usual, when I got up, the dog got up with me.  Once settled in on our comfy couch, though, he was back to sleep soon enough.  I envied him for his ability to rest so peacefully.

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Since it had been a while since I wrote a blog post and ideas were not coming to me, I retrieved a book from my shelf in hopes that it would spark meaningful thoughts that I could share.

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I was not in a good place for writing, because every writing prompt I looked at and thought about seemed to have some sort of painful memory attached to it.  Recent conversations have opened old wounds and have made new ones.  I’ve found myself confronted by a kind of hate I was unprepared to face.

Writing, or speaking, the truth, is not always nice, or pleasant or pretty.  But it shouldn’t be hateful.  We all have opinions, and we all have a right to express them.  And if people choose to be hateful, I guess they have that right as well.

By the same token, we have the right to minimize our exposure to the hate, even if it comes from within our own family or “friends”.  Gracious God, help me to hand over to You my pain and my anger, and to keep handing it over until I can leave it with You once and for all.  Soothe the tempest that threatens me.  I come to You with open hands and a broken heart.  Fill me so full of Your love that there’s no room for anything else—Amen.

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