I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a time-out. The game’s gone on way too long, there’s been too many extra features. I’m beginning to lose focus; it’s just not “fun” anymore. Do you know what I mean?
It turns out, however, that it’s not the right time for recess. It is, instead, the right time for story time. It’s the right time for listening instead of speaking, for focusing in a way that allows us to hear the whole story and not just the parts we’ve come to expect will be there.
We’ve all been affected by the protests following the murder of George Floyd – equal parts awe, fear, approval and horror for many of us – followed by the sense that we can’t just leave it here.
What can we do? What can we do that would make a difference? Could we put up a banner? Someone suggested yesterday that we could put up an ALL LIVES MATTER banner… it sounded good, until we realized that if all lives mattered the same, George Floyd wouldn’t be dead today. So, not that.
The thing is, we’re not really ready to banner up. We don’t yet know enough, we’ve not heard enough stories. We’ve heard just enough to begin to realize that there’s a whole part of being American – the part where you’re not white – that we’ve just not noticed. Think about it – you have to know someone pretty well before they start telling you the stories about the death of a sister, or the murder of their dad’s grandparents in Nazi Germany. In order to hear those stories, we have to first get to know one another, to demonstrate that we have empathy enough to be trusted with these stories. The thing is, you can’t just dial up a model person, ready to tell us their stories, in order to school us. Our African-American siblings are not here to raise us, to be used by us. So, we need to look for other ways to hear what’s been going on.
The good news is there are a lot of books out there these days. Reading them is hard. The stories are shocking and painful. You might rather watch a movie – they exist as well. Just Mercy can be streamed free this month. Have you ever seen the movie Gone With The Wind? All those dashing men, so beautiful in their grey uniforms, so glorious…. and every one of them thinks it is good and right to own black people as slaves. What does it mean that the movie’s been so popular? Or – in a “ripped from the headlines” story…. what does it mean that President Trump intends to give a speech on June 19 – Juneteenth — the day when Texas’ slaves learned they were free? And how will it feel that he’s giving that speech in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where, in 1921, there was a huge race riot that left as many as 300 African-Americans dead and 10,000 homeless? And why does he think it a good thing to continue to name major US Army bases after heroes of the Confederate Army, traitors in a war against the United States?
Can we get together and talk about these things? Is it possible we might read a book together? Watch a movie? Talk? Pray? Learn? If you’d like to try that, email me, or leave a comment on our Facebook page.
Blessings, Pastor Virginia