What a lamentable thing it is that men should blame the gods and regard us as the source of their troubles, when it is their own wickedness that brings them sufferings worse than any which destiny allots them.
I am sad.
You know how grief goes? You wake up one morning and the sun can’t shine bright enough, the coffee isn’t strong enough, breakfast doesn’t taste good nor does it fill.
You know how grief goes? The weeping unprovoked, driving in the car, eating a meal, shopping at the store – the most mundane of tasks, an event. Eyes puffy, children in the way, nothing satisfies. The relief is far, far, far. A bit of fear creeps in and is all: Hey, is this the way it’s gonna be from now on? And I’m all: No, leave me alone, it’s just a frickin’ day. Ease up.
This was my Friday. I thought we were on the potential brink of nuclear annihilation, so you know, maybe I was grieving the end of my life as I knew it, or maybe I was grieving the loss of the world I thought we were going to give our children, or maybe I was grieving the complacency of a church that seems to want to be quiet these days because a huge majority of their members voted for this.
My Friday, I ached. Eric and I went out for dinner. I cried over salmon and risotto, helped along by an IPA. I cried over my fear and my concern. I cried over being a woman and having a daughter. I cried over the silence and complacency of people who claim to love and follow Jesus. I cried over the fact that I have so much to be grateful for because of my opportunities. I cried because I need to get this church started. I need to be with my people doing the work that needs to be done.
I took to bed early, checking Twitter. The Tiki Torches of white nationalism and supremacy were marching on UVA while clergy gathered in a prayer meeting. I did not know. I was not aware of this activity. Could my grief have been my preparation? Could my grief have been what allowed me to see?
I rose on Saturday. I rose early and I rose resolute. I rose knowing my prayers were needed, my prayers of desperation for Charlottesville. Ten miles I hiked, sweat pouring, my feet tired, I prayed, I questioned, I pounded, I lamented. I posted.
This is not who we are! Pray friends, pray. Pray friends, pray. Wake up people. Wake up! This is not who we are.
But it is who we are. We’ve been this since the start. This is our heritage, our national calling card. We have never contended with our original sin of slavery, with our white supremacist systems, with our incredible white privilege. We have not offered confessions or reparations to our black and brown and indigenous. We were founded on slavery and the displacement and destruction of innocent lives. This is who we are. Until we take inventory, confess, lament, and do the crucial work we will continue to repeat the same, over and over and over again.
Today, I choose to lament. Today I choose to listen to the sermons from neighboring churches. Did they even reference Charlottesville from the pulpit? Or is this someone else’s issue? We have entered territory of the lowest common denominator of decency. Our churches should ALL be condemning this sordid, hateful, terrorist violence. Did yours? Thank God mine did.
Lament allows me to see the truth, to step away from the false comfort of denial, to take stock and measure the reality of the situation. Lament allows me to grieve, to do the work of self reflection and self incrimination. Lament allows me to grieve for the chosen ignorance of others, for the gaze averting we white people get to do. Lament allows me to stare down the churches that would choose comfort and status quo and building programs over this tantamount work of doing love in the form of justice and compassion and creating hope, holding our country accountable to its racist and despotic past, present, future.
I have no prescription today beyond hold your leaders accountable, hold your pastor accountable, hold your children and partners accountable, hold yourself accountable. There is no shame, no condemnation – the work of recognizing white supremacy within ourselves and our people leads to gut wrenching desperation. Do it anyway. Take stock, pick up the corner of the rug and retrieve the pile that denial swept underneath, find people to confess and process and begin the work of opening your eyes. No-one can do it but you. No-one can do it but me.
I know we are not citizens of a Christian nation. I don’t want to be a citizen of a Christian nation. I want a nation for all people and religions and genders and sexualities and abilities and colors. I want a nation that stands firm in the truth of love and kindness and decency, that denounces hate and horror and calls terrorism what it is. It begins with us. It begins with our leaders. It begins in our schools. Now is the time.
Lament and grieve and mourn. I am, for what I thought we were, we are not. What I thought the church was, it is not.
White people, we have serious work to do, now is the time.