Revival

It’s Holy Week and I have this whole thing cooked up in my brain about how THIS Easter in THIS year is going to be the one that brings Revival.

Hear me out.

On the macro, Jesus came here to save us by becoming our sin on the Cross and defeating death.

But also, you know my great belief, influenced by Father Richard Rohr, that the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Christ are also a roadmap for walking the traumas and dramas of our own lives.

In a nutshell, the bad stuff cannot be avoided because it is impossible to live a trouble-free life. Bad things happen. And also we suck at handling bad things as a people in general, because we don’t like pain or accountability or sacrifice or shame or guilt or sickness or death. So we duck and dodge the bad stuff in our lives, or we set up shop there and never leave, and neither of those options makes for happy healthy humans.

The micro of the passion death and resurrection of Jesus is a road map of how to walk bad stuff: straight through, sisters, eyes and ears open. What has to be done, has to be done. The divorce. The job loss. The cancer. The grieving. The aging. The sobering up. The truth-telling. Have to shoulder the cross and walk it. Have to hang there and suffer. Have to die to what came before. Have to. Otherwise there is no resurrection.

When was the last time the world suffered together? World War 2? Long enough that we forgot the lessons. Long enough that we fought it every step of the way and what did we learn? We’re still here, laying in the tomb, waiting on Sunday.

This week, we want to talk about the Resurrection–the one that saved the world and the one we’re going to experience in the coming months. We didn’t live through COVID to go back to the way things were. We died to that life in March of 2020. If we try for that life again, we’re just coming out of the tomb and climbing back onto the cross.

Think of all the things the Resurrection did for us–how it saved us, freed us, changed everything. Two thousand years later, we are an Easter people.

Now ask yourself–how will you be coming out of COVID saved, freed, changed? How will Easter live in your life?

There was a post on Facebook asking what everyone was going to give up for Lent. A woman posted “I don’t think I have the bandwidth this year. I’m just going to try and be a patient mom and get everyone through this.”

When I tell you that I felt this in my bones, I mean that I levitated off my bed. For the rest of my life I will be jealous that I did not say it first: Lent 2021 is cancelled.

Mostly because Lent 2020 NEVER ENDED.

For a year we have been victims of not only this illness, but the jackasses around us, which also forced a roll call over this question: WHO KNEW THERE WERE SO MANY?  My whole life I’ll never forget the way they forced us to sacrifice meaningful life events at the altar of their self-righteousness and callous disregard for the lives of others.

We won’t get back the time we spent trying to reason with them before we realized we were throwing good words after bad into a giant wind tunnel of stubborn, willful, privileged ignorance.

I am joking about this, kind of, because if I really opened up it would overwhelm me.

I know how serious it has been, every day since this time last year. I see the numbers of dead. I know that we are still in it, which means we have not yet begun to reap what was sown in the hearts and psyches of the first responders, medical personnel, teachers, parents. Our kids. The decision makers who just tried to do what was right with the information they had while the peanut gallery screamed for their heads on platters.

This is my point. Like the mom said, we are out of bandwidth. We have been sacrificing so long that we are numb to hope. I hear more and more people talking about “our new normal” like we are post- apocalypse and counting down to the zombies. A traditional Lent with a focus on guilt, denial and sin could push us into despair.

So, nuh-uh. Not doing it. Maybe you can. Go along then.

But over here, we will turn our faces to the light. Easter is coming and our Lenten reflection will be this: Our great, glorious, loving, mighty and ever-faithful God is God in the valley AND on the mountains.

And after a long, scary, tense and uncertain year, we are climbing, sisters.

JOIN US FOR ADVENT

Hey! Were trying vlogging every day for Advent over on Facebook and Instagram (@graceinthedetails).

Vote for Hope

In 2017, 6 days after the inauguration of President Trump, I came here to write about my concerns for our country under his leadership.  I was scared because the new administration seemed to be so uninformed  about the beauty of the constitution and the workings of the government.   I asked you to join me in lighting a candle in your window to signify HOPE for the leadership of our government to put the people of the US and the world first over personal gratification and demagoguery. 

Right before the midterm elections I again wrote requesting that all like minded people continue with the candle in the window, but I also encouraged you all  to vote, to encourage everyone else  to vote and to support the candidates who would put duty first over the pursuit of wealth or popularity.

Now we are in a major crisis.  As of today, October 30,  2020, almost 240,000 people have died from a virus that was trivialized and ignored.   Once it made its  ugly presence known we realized that we were totally unprepared.  The greatest country in the world did not have enough masks, gowns and respirators to keep our health care workers and patients safe.  We cannot provide enough testing to assure who is safe to work and who isn’t.  The federal government alternates from making national pronouncements about behavior to abdicating responsibility to the governors of the states, then insulting them for taking needed measures for control of the situation.   The President releases from duty or fires any person who criticizes or questions his orders.  There is no one in charge who seems to understand the seriousness of the situation.  Again, it seems that our President is reading the first sentence of the report and ignoring the rest of the important information

The election is tomorrow.  So I ask you again to please put your candle back in the window to symbolize HOPE.  Hope that the world working together will find a cure for this pandemic.  Hope that our people will have sufficient food and necessities to get through this situation.  And as a reminder that we all must take seriously our duty to vote for the best candidate, one who is honest and thoughtful, who will choose a strong Cabinet and surround himself with those who understand that the US and the world need to work together for the good of all nations not only in this terrible situation  but in every daily activity.

On White Privilege

Well-known and respected Evangelical pastor Louis Giglio, sitting across from Christian rapper Lecrae and the Chik-Fil-A guy, trying to have an “honest” conversation about race, said that

“…white Americans understood “the curse that was slavery” but that they “miss the blessing of slavery—that it actually built up the framework for the world that white people live in and lived in.” He added that “a fuse goes off” for a lot of white people when they hear the term “white privilege,” so he suggested a change of language. “I think maybe a great thing for me is to call it ‘white blessing,’ that I’m living in the blessing of the curse that happened generationally, that allowed me to grow up in Atlanta”…

He has since apologized for his “poor choice of words”. This dodges the issue inherent in what he said, which is this: the belief that while we would never tolerate slavery today, it served its purpose at the time in building the foundation of this nation. Further, that people of color must be patient with the white folks who just haven’t turned the corner on issues of race because we are still trying to reconcile the blessing with the curse.

This is a dangerous lie.

I was in my second year of teaching American Lit to high school juniors the first time one of my Black students said “There is something not right about white people.” I had introduced a piece from The People’s History of the United States in class in an effort to combat what I knew to be a white male version of American History. I don’t remember which piece. I don’t remember what we were talking about, or what prompted him to make the comment. I can see his face as he said it though, and he was angry.

I fought him on his idea. I don’t remember my exact words either, but I do know I wanted to impress upon him the idea that we can’t paint a whole race of people with the same brush.

I know, I know, I know.

Now, I know.

But then, it took me a few more times of hearing different Black students say the same thing before I stopped wanting to protest and started trying to understand.

Finally, in the ninth year of my career, I was sitting in a classroom with my good friend Paula, waiting for her to finish a conference with two students so we could go home. Sometimes for teachers, these are the most unguarded moments with students, and can produce the most amazing conversations.

Again, I don’t remember exactly how we got here, but we’d recently had a riot on school grounds that sparked between the Black and Hispanic students and ended  with 40 sheriffs on campus and multiple arrests. At some point in the conversation, one of the boys said “I can say this to you because you all aren’t white, but white people are not right in the head”.

“I’m not…white?” I asked.

“No. You know what I mean. You aren’t white-white, like Lakewood white.”

Lakewood is city within a city, part of Long Beach, where I grew up. And yes, Lakewood has a well-documented and on-going problem with white supremacists.

But it was more than that, for this kid. So I asked him “What do you mean, not right in the head?”

And he told me his mom had said that any people who would enslave another people and then not even try to understand the damage that caused? There was something wrong with them. Wrong mentally. Wrong emotionally. Wrong morally.

He was not the last Black kid to tell me this and I always remember it when I hear things like “I think maybe a great thing for me is to call it ‘white blessing,’ that I’m living in the blessing of the curse that happened generationally, that allowed me to grow up in Atlanta”.

Or the lady on a Facebook post the other day who said “How can we, as whites, learn, if we are only being shown hatred( or whatever the opposite of kindness is) In my opinion, even in anger and frustration, you will open more eyes by using that anger in love, or at least an eagerness to awaken.”

It is critical to the narrative of white American history that this nation was carved from the wilderness by white men who pulled themselves up by the bootstraps to found and defend the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The idea of white privilege threatens this narrative. It says our forefathers had an advantage, from the beginning. Sometimes that was money or manpower or deadlier weapons. But always there was an attitude of entitlement, a desire for domination.

When a white person says “I think maybe a great thing for me is to call it ‘white blessing’”, he is communicating an unwillingness to surrender a cultural mythology that places him front and center. When a white person says “How can we as whites learn when we are only being shown hatred”, she is asking to be treated with a patience and care not extended to people of color.

Now see all that as a person of color, with slavery or American Indian blood running through your veins.

Look from the Thanksgiving pageants about how a shipload of entitled white people came to Massachusetts and set about stealing the land and resources from those who already lived there, to the children of immigrants locked in cages at the Texas border.

Look from the July 4th celebrations over a document that says “All men are created equal” to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 188 years.

Look at Andrew Jackson’s face on the $20 bill and hear again the story of your ancestors being marched from Georgia to Oklahoma to make room for slave plantations. Then see those white faces screaming at Hispanics to “Go back where you came from!”

Then a white man of God calls all this  a “blessing”? And a white woman asks for patience and love while she “learns”?

No wonder kids of color believe there is something not right about white folks.

This is what we have to do: Listen responsibly, which means not only when it feels palatable. Seek out the uncomfortable and convicting. Make yourself sit in the pain and anger of another. Examine the ways in which you have benefitted from that pain. Reject the mythology of the founding of this nation and demand that your children be taught the truth. I don’t know what else, but others do. Find them. Hear them.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou