How I’m Flunking Lent

Dear Evan Hanson and John Oliver, thank you for saving my Easter.

Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand, You can reach, reach out your hand…

It’s the story of tonight and the story of practically everyday since November 8th, 2016.  It’s an ache that has ebbed and flowed but could never be fully shaken.  The death of what I once knew as my country and my church has shaken me to the core and forever changed me.  These posts are where I chronicle my Micah 6:8 Journey.  These posts are where I process.  To say that there’s been A LOT of *processing* in the last year-plus would be the understatement of the century.  Writing helps me sort the myriad of thoughts and feelings.

Confession: as cathartic as writing has been, there have been many more moments when I don’t feel strong enough to stand or write or do anything.

I Gave Up Donald Trump

A year ago, I gave up Donald Trump for Lent.  No, it wasn’t a joke.  It was a serious and deliberate effort to manage my election-induced anxiety and create space for God to remind me of the hope and promise of Easter Sunday.  I first got the idea after reading Diana Butler Bass’s article in the Washington Post.  It was an effort to actually understand a well established and Biblically based tradition that I’d somehow ignored during my evangelical years.  This year, though… my spirit is too weary for a program or plan – just sitting with my dog and listening to Found Tonight on repeat.  I need a new practice, a different kind of fasting as I find “myself craving a God who would meet me in lament and silence and darkness,” as Sarah Bessey puts it.

Wrong Test

I can’t blame Donald Trump entirely for the craziness of recent weeks.  Just over a month ago, my husband had a heart attack.  One minute, we’re walking around town while our boys are at karate.  The next minute (okay, 90 minutes), he’s being wheeled into the Cath Lab at Stanford Hospital.

Screenshot 2018-03-20 13.42.08By most measures, he was healthy.  Cholesterol, weight, blood pressure – all within normal limits.  Diet and exercise – decent.  He’d even done a stress test about a year prior and he passed with flying colors.  Every test he and/or the doctors had done pointed to a healthy heart.

But he was wrong. They were wrong. They had the wrong tests and measurements.  And ,that wrongness nearly killed him.  You see, most of us can pass stress tests, even run marathons and live life without much difficulty – until the blockage is more than 70%.

My husband likes to say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Something had to change.  His very survival required it.  For weeks, he poured over stacks of books, reading everything about cardiac health.  One gut-wrenching realization: this *new* information was there ALL ALONG.  Literally.  Two of the most impactful books he read had been sitting on our bookshelves for YEARS – untouched.  I guess they waiting for a time when life slowed down or we made a New Year’s resolution to ‘eat healthier’.  Or, as proved to be the case, we were *truly* motivated to change.

As Oprah likes to say, ‘When you know better, you do better.’  And, we were ready to ‘do better’ by making major changes.  We wanted to not only prevent further heart disease but also reverse it by prioritizing diet, exercise…even mental health.  In a nutshell, we needed to decide this mattered.

 

 

The American Church (especially, white, evangelical) has some serious health issues, including heart ones.  We’ve forgotten to love what He loves or let our heart be broken by what breaks His.  We’re addicted to power clothed pseudo religiosity and we’ve turned faith communities for serving the world into legalistic clans that serve ourselves.  And, we’ve done it without a guilty conscience by Screenshot 2018-03-24 20.14.37using the wrong measurements and taking the wrong tests.

For decades, Americans surveyed have described Christians as ‘judgmental’ or ‘hypocritical’ – a far cry any of the nine ‘fruits of the spirits’ Paul lists in Galatians when saying how we will be known.  Instead, we see “misogynistic,” “colonial,” and “white supremacist” added more recently to the list.   Put simply, we are better at preaching about love than actually doing it – especially when it comes to loving the least.

Newsflash: the world isn’t fooled.

Don’t get me started on continued support for Donald Trump, even as the onslaught of Cabinet resignations, porn-star lawsuits and Mueller indictments continue at an alarming rate.  It shouldn’t be shocking that the latest Pew reports indicate Americans have warmed up to every religious group EXCEPT evangelicals.

Hybels & Zuckerberg

The *usual suspects* on the far right are not the only ones who have made mistakes.  For progressive believers seeking change, our credibility is on the line if we do not advocate for truth and justice – no matter what.  It’s not easy, but it’s essential.

Case in point: Bill Hybels and Mark Zuckerberg.  In just the last two days, these two leaders, have both come under intense scrutiny in the face of serious accusations of gross misjudgments.

Facebook is facing tough questions related to the Cambridge Analytica debacle.  While I never thought Facebook was perfect, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit some pride living in Silicon Valley, residing in the very town where Facebook has its headquarters.  This is undoubtably the biggest ‘hit’ that Facebook (and its founder!) has taken since its founding.

Screenshot 2018-03-24 16.00.10.pngIn the same way that Facebook revolutionized social media, so did Willow Creek blaze a trail for churches around the globe.  I spent my young adult years at Willow, discovering a faith that put faith into action.  I mention or quote Bill Hybels in at least four of my blog posts.  He was a pastor that I respected and saw as an example for leaders around the globe.  I was shocked when I read that for many years, he’d been the subject of investigations into sexual abuse/harassment.

I was even more heartbroken when I read an email from Willow to friends/members (I’m still on their distribution list).  Its content and tone denigrated those who had brought the accusations and/or had pushed for more thorough inquiries (which included, my current pastor, John Ortberg).  In the wake of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements, my stomach turned as I saw pastor protection elevated above pursuing truth and affirming victims.  I thought of the sexual assault and abuse victims I know and love.

There can be no sacred cows (or golden calf’s).  No exceptions if we are serious about the Micah 6:8 life; truth and humility are essential to justice.

 

How Are YOU?

400dpiLogo (1)Equity and justice have become central themes over the last year plus, with my holy discontent manifesting as work with  Community Equity Collaborative.  (Interesting things happen when you study white privilege and racism….).  Our three focus areas are:

  • Encouraging equity in education by promoting greater early childhood/preschool access
  • Creating career pathways for early childhood educators
  • Increasing family engagement at K-12 schools through PTO/PTA Roundtables, along with other resources that facilitate greater diversity and inclusion.

At our latest Roundtable, PTO reps sat around tables, brainstorming ways to recruit more leaders through a more inclusive process.  We talked about the steady decline in volunteerism and the challenge in recruiting new leaders.  Maybe folks are overwhelmed and tired.  Maybe some moms have gone back to work.  Maybe volunteers who helped in the past are now burnt out.  Then, a leader from a predominantly Hispanic school spoke up.

At my school, we make a point of asking parents, ‘How are you?’.  We want them to know we care more about how they’re *actually doing* than trying to sign them up for our project or ask them to do something.

Screenshot 2018-03-20 13.49.04We all just sat there.  It was as if she’d simultaneously revealed the most profound yet blatantly obvious mindset flaw….  We’re all just marching towards glorious goals without pausing to reflect on the gap between our best intentions versus our actual impact.

In a room where most of the representatives came from wealthy and/or white communities, I was reminded of how much we gain when we are intentional about building a bigger table where people/relationships prevail above programs or privilege.

So, church – do you ask?  Are you opening your eyes to our *actual impact* as opposed to our pretty programs and best intentions? Do you connect with marginalized people or communities and ask them how they are?  I didn’t ask whether a black person sings in your choir or you’ve created a special Spanish-language advertisement to your Easter Sunday service or collected an offering last month for your favorite Christian charity.  I asked if you’re getting out of the pews and to the people, with an authentic interest in finding out when you get there – how are they doing?

March for our lives

IMG_1791My little boy marched.

I hadn’t made a big deal about the #NationalWalkout.  He’s ten.  He loves Legos and Star Wars.  But, on the morning of the Walkout, I made a last-minute decision to mention the walkout to him, in case it became the topic of conversation or even action at school.  Our drive to school is short, but it only took him a few seconds to decide how he felt – he wanted to join.  I was honestly surprised, so I hastily said I’d let his teacher know.  As soon as I got back home, I sent her a note and she replied back to me that if he wanted to participate in the Walkout, he’d need to go to the middle school.  I quickly changed out of the plaid pajamas I’d driven him to school in (Lord, may I never need to get out of the car during school commutes!) and into my yoga gear (standard issue mom uniform).  I printed a picture of my grandmother, with the words #NeverForget, then ran out the door.

Soon, my son and I were joining hundreds of middle schoolers, marching around the school campus.  He didn’t need instructions.  There are moments when opportunity and purpose converge in such a way that instinct naturally takes over.  And, this was one of those moments for him.  He held up high the picture of his great-grandmother.  He was evidence of pain and horror that had rippled through the generations, from the Easter Sunday when she was murdered over 60 years ago – to this moment, as he marched in the rain.    At the end of the march, students read prepared speeches and poems.  They said the names of Parkland students killed, followed by a moment of silence.  I could see it in his eyes; a fire was lit.

These kids….they ARE making a difference.  They ARE changing the world.  #NeverAgain #Enough 

Vegan Easter

So, my bacon loving, steak eating husband made a bold decision to become a vegan.  The evidence for improving his cardiac wellness and overall health with better nutrition was undeniable.  It’s not a miracle cure or a guarantee – but it’s the right choice, in light of all he now knows.  The rest of us joined him.  It wasn’t just an act of solidarity but rather of sanity.  How could we not?  Now we knew!  We not only realized that the old tests and measurements had been wrong but also that there was a better way.

Lenten sacrifices are intended to grow compassion, not simply be a reluctant exercise in giving up chocolate or swearing.  The fact that I didn’t have a program did not mean that He did not have a plan.  Last year, He met me in the spaces I carved out for Him, by eschewing my daily doses of political satire and news.  This year, He’s showing up EVEN in the midst of the madness, teaching me that Jesus is more interested in changing my spiritual diet (and measurements!) 365 days a year than He is a token gesture for forty.  He’s reminding me that it doesn’t matter if I ace my own test but fail in every aspect by which He measures faith.

I can almost picture God up in heaven, chuckling at my misguided attempts to jump through so many hoops, check so many boxes.  Easter is the ultimate new covenant.  It’s not the day for ham dinners or egg hunts or fancy dresses.  And so, our family is remaking Easter, not just with vegan recipes but with new practices and different measurements.

Maybe we need a redefinition of ‘right’

Bill Hybels always said that there’s nothing like the local church when the local church it works right.  I agree.  (Still!)

But….

Screenshot 2018-03-24 15.35.14Maybe ‘right’ looks less like mega churches with celebrity pastors and more like my friend who worked quietly behind the limelight to bring kids affected by gun violence in Chicago together with the Parkland kids so that together they could march this weekend in DC.  Maybe ‘right’ looks less like the fancy programs we do on Sunday morning and more like the people we serve in our communities Monday through Friday.  Maybe ‘right’ looks less ‘blessing the blessed’ and more like advocating for the poor or marginalized.  Maybe ‘right’ looks less like sleek videos and hip worship leaders and more like true allyship with POC or LGBTQ communities.  Maybe ‘right’ looks less like upgrades to our own infrastructure (whether a new sanctuary building or fancy remodel) and more like support for more just systems in our communities, whether that’s clean water in Flint or early childhood education for kids across America.   Maybe ‘right’ looks less like building shoebox campaigns and more like campaigning for investments in education and livable wages for teachers across America.  Maybe ‘right’ looks less like vinyl wall decals in our Pinterest worthy-kitchen and more like teaching our kids about white privilege and systemic racism.  Maybe ‘right’ looks less like a pro-life platform that is obsessed with my uterus and more like a people who are willing to stand with the thousands of kids marching through the streets today, begging that they not be slaughtered with military assault weapons.  Maybe ‘right’ looks less like fancy Easter outfits and more likeScreenshot 2018-03-23 14.26.50 books that teach us about love in all its forms (thank you, Marlon Bundo and John Oliver).  Maybe ‘right’ looks less like a Tesla and more like a donkey.

My boys want a Tesla.  The Tesla Roadster, to be precise.  (Unless we win the lottery, we’re not getting it!)  But, you can’t fault my boys for wanting one.  Tesla’s abound in Menlo Park.  And, they’re pretty cool.  I’ll admit.  But, the biggest problem with the church right now is that we have become vehicles for power and privilege and we think that by slapping a ‘blessed’ or ‘grateful’ decal on the back, the world will recognize our good intentions and forget our impact.  The world’s not stupid.

The world sees the true fruits of our efforts, the impact of our power and privilege.  And, while they might be okay with our Jesus, they’re less impressed with us.

This Sunday, we remember the day that Jesus, Son of God, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, only days later to wash the feet of His disciples before carrying a cross to Calvary.  We wear the cross, but do we carry it?  Do we wash the feet?  Instead of just waving palm branches for a moment this Sunday, would we take the time to also remember what Jesus did so long ago AFTER he rode that donkey?  He cleared the temple courts.  It’s telling that the bookends of His ministry have Jesus teaching us that His house is not a place for power and privilege or profit but a place for prayer and for His purposes.

As we begin Holy Week, it is clear I am flunking lent.  By conventional standards, I’ve failed the test.  All my good intentions for reading a Lenten devotional or joining #40 acts or picking something to ‘give up’ have fallen by the wayside.  And, then I remember….”for all have sinned and fallen short…”  No amount of good works or best efforts could ever help us ‘pass the test’ or bridge the gap between ourselves and a holy God…for 40 days or 365, let alone a lifetime….which is why He so loved the world that He sent His only Son.

Jesus held the first March For Our Lives; one man carried a cross up a hill to save all our lives, and in so doing, bridged that gap.

Maybe *this* IS Lent.

To nobler heights

My grandmother was Valedictorian of her high school graduating class.  Her laura2commencement speech was titled, To Nobler Heights.

Tonight as we pause at this worthy goal, our hearts are gladdened for we feel we have accomplished something worth while on our march thus far…Our hopes like towering falcons aim at objects in airy heights, for we realize that upon, the youth of today, rests that great responsibility as citizens of tomorrow.  As we look forward into the future we see great and noble heights that we may attain if we but climb steadfastly onward.  We know not how much time we are given and must constantly move onward if we would not fall back.  To those who are older and perhaps great than we, it may possibly seem that our progress is slow and our achievement nothing.  But we are not discouraged, for we desire above everything else to climb upward; to give our lives in service to humanity, and thus in a measure repay the world and our Master for what has been done for us. 

 

Screenshot 2018-03-24 16.18.09As Lin Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt’s song Found Tonight begins…

We may not yet have reached our glory, but I will gladly join the fight….and when our children tell our story, they’ll tell the story of tonight.

 

To nobler heights!  Let’s be broken, together.  Let’s be stronger, together.  Let’s be better, together.

This is the march for our lives.

This is the march for her life.

For God so loved the world that He marched first, so that you could be found.

The WHY….

It is a toddler’s favorite word: why.

Why is the sky blue?  Why do pigs like mud?  Are unicorns real? Why do chickens lay eggs?  Why can’t I have ALL the Legos at the toy store?  

Any parent will tell you that it’s a magical milestone when a child begins stringing together words and you can have *actual* conversations.  Over time, those actual conversations turn to torture when they just won’t SHUT UP.  (Hey, no judging until you’ve spent YEARS discussing the finer points of garbage trucks and diggers followed by YEARS discussing Star Wars!) Or, how about when the questions seem pointless?  Like when my boys discuss the pros and cons of having eyes on hands and mouths on stomachs OR what if the universe got sucked into a black hole?  What would happen?  I’m not sure what happens if we all get sucked into a black hole (I’m a Liberal Arts and Sciences person but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it’s not good) but I know what happens these days after about 10 minutes of these kinds of conversations….I exit the conversation.  I tell them I’m busy.  I direct them to go play somewhere else.  I get off their rollercoaster of endless ideas and possibilities.

Eventually, kids stop asking ‘why’.  My eldest will officially enter the teenage years in a couple of months.  Now and then, she asks her dad and I a ‘why’ question, but not as often as before.  She’s learned how to google!  And, more significantly, she’s keen to gather inputs from sources other than mom and dad.   I’m currently reading Untangled by Lisa Damour, in my attempt to prepare for the teenage years ahead.  Lisa writes about the immense significance that teenage girls associate to being part of a tribe, to feeling like they belong.

A tribe can be a beautiful, wonderful thing.  On the flip side, we hear the world ‘tribalism’ thrown around a lot these days, as folks try to unpack the reasons behind why our world seems so painfully divided.  It was only lasted a moment, but a brief encounter highlighting these divisions has stuck with me.  As much as I’ve wanted to erase this singular dark spot from my otherwise pleasant Christmas holiday – I can’t.  Nor can I shake my strange desire to go back to that moment and tell him THE WHY.

The Beach

IMG_0780It was our last full day in Pismo.  I was taking my boys down to the tide pools at the beach just in front of our hotel.  As we walked down the path to the stairs leading to the beach, I noticed three girls playing happily on the lawn.  We turned the corner and began our descent down a steep staircase down the cliff to the sands below.  Boys being boys, mine raced ahead.  I tried to keep up, yelling to them every few seconds to SLOW DOWN and BE CAREFUL.  As we made our way down the stairs a gentleman behind me said, ‘They look like healthy kids with a lot energy!’.  Wanting to be polite yet eager to catch-up to my boys, I replied, ‘maybe they have too much energy!’.  The man then continued with words that still haunt me.

Well, better that than to be overweight like those Hispanic girls back there.  Did you see them?  They must have weighed 150 lbs each.  I can’t help but notice the difference between those girls and your boys. 

I didn’t know how to respond.  So, I ran ahead, saying nothing.  Catching up to my boys, I put a smile on my face, hiding the tangled mix of thought and emotion as I processed what just happened.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve gone back to that moment over and over again.  There were a thousand things I wanted to say, starting with the most important point that the girls on the lawn were beautiful and in no way deserving of such horrible insults.  Period.  Then, in addition to the things I’d say, there were the questions I’d ask…  I’d ask him why he felt it was okay to say something like that to me?  I’d question his assumption that we were somehow of the same tribe.  I’d ask him whether he had considered for a second why these girls were slightly bigger than my boys?

THE WHY.

One of the most frustrating facets of this story is that this man never stopped to consider THE WHY before opening his mouth to the stranger in front of him (me).  These moments seem harmless enough, but they’re not.  They are the micro-aggressions perpetuate bias and injustice.

Going back to the story….  Were the girls bigger than my boys?  Yes.  But, the man’s words and tone suggested that it was because of their race that they were overweight compared to my boys.  They weren’t just girls….they were ‘Hispanic girls’.  And, to make the comment that much more insulting, he grossly exaggerated their weight.  The message was clear, though.  My ‘white boys’ (as he saw them) were good.  And, these Hispanic girls were not.

The problem with prejudice is that it usually steals just enough partial truth to perpetuate a total lie.  You see, Hispanic children ARE more likely to be obese than white children.  According to a SPECIAL REPORT on RACIAL AND ETHNIC DISPARITIES IN OBESITY, 22.4 percent of Latino children ages 2 to 19 are obese, compared with 14.3 percent of White children.5 More than 38.9 percent of Latino children are overweight or obese, compared with 28.5 percent of White children.  This is the truth.  But, this is not the whole story.

The Hispanic Kids

The reason why Hispanic children are a greater risk is due to the following:

  • Poverty, lack of access to affordable healthy food
  • Barriers due to language, culture or immigration status
  • Higher exposure to marketing of less nutritious foods
  • Limited access to safe spaces to be physically active

Being a policy wonk, I could go on and on with statistics on implications of these statistics or the strategies for change.  But, I won’t.  That’s not the point.  The point is that if we want to have a conversation about weight then we should talk be talking about broken systems, racism and privilege.

So many of the problems facing us today persist – not because we don’t have answers.  It’s because we lack the compassion and/or curiosity to ask the questions.

And, it’s not just the man on the stairs.

Women of Color

IMG_0841Evidence of bias and injustice abounds.  Another heartbreaking example is that of women of color who die in childbirth at an alarming rate.  Researchers have finally begun to ask WHY.  The answer isn’t as simple as poverty or lack of access to care.  Serena Williams, one of the most famous tennis stars on the globe (and surely one of the most fit people on the planet!) recently made news with news of how she nearly died after childbirth.  She’s not alone.

A recent ProPublica investigation chronicles the story of another mother, Shalon, who died tragically at the age of 36, due to complications following childbirth.  Shalon was an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, holding two masters degrees and a dual subject PhD.  When she, a healthy, well-educated black woman died unexpectedly after childbirth, her colleagues were compelled to dig deeper into THE WHY.

WHY is it that African-American mothers die in New York City at a rate 12 times that of Caucasian mothers?  This trend continues, even for more well-off African American mothers, with one study showing that black, college educated mothers were more likely to suffer from severe complications of pregnancy or childbirth than white women who never graduated from high school.  The answers are complicated, but the underlying theme is racism.  It’s not just the individual encounters with our health care system.  It is the cumulative byproduct of a lifetime of injustice that manifests in the most tragic of physiological ways.  As Fleda Mask Johnson, an Atlanta researcher who studies this explains:

It’s chronic stress that just happens all the time — there is never a period where there’s rest from it. It’s everywhere; it’s in the air; it’s just affecting everything.  

And, that everything includes childbirth.  Michael Lu, a longtime disparities researcher and former head of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration compares the chronic stress of being a black woman in America to gunning the engine of a car…..perpetually.  As he puts it, “sooner or later you’re going to wear out the engine.”

There are plenty of other examples of injustice towards African-American women, such as the wage gap (where they suffer from a double whammy of both racial and gender discrimination).  But, the story….the WHY…. behind black women dying at alarming rates – regardless of education, geography, income, health, you name it…..is the very real pain and harm caused by racism and injustice that persists in both people and systems.

The RE-Segregation

Screenshot 2018-01-13 17.11.06For many, education is viewed as the great equalizer.  Get an education and you can do anything!  With this mindset, it then becomes easy to judge others.  If only they’d applied themselves more in school….then, they could have gotten a good job, blah, blah, blah.  Sure, we’ll admit that some schools are better than others (that’s why we work so hard to get our own kids into certain districts!).  But, we cling to this vague notion of the American Dream that assumes most folks have access to decent schools.  This is where the WHY is again useful.  If it’s really so simple, WHY don’t more people just follow that recipe?

Just a few days ago, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, released a 150-page report, titled “Public Education Funding Inequity: In An Era Of Increasing Concentration Of Poverty and Resegregation.”  I’ll save you the trouble of reading all 150 pages.  The main message is that America’s education system is failing its most vulnerable students due to:

  • Neighborhood schools that remain deeply segregated
  • Too many students lacking access to skilled teachers, rigorous courses, and
  • Inequitable school funding.

One particularly scathing line reads:

American public schooling is, and has been, profoundly unequal in the opportunity delivered to students, the dollars spent to educate students, and the determinations of which students are educated together.  

So, WHY isn’t education a simple solution for those that are struggling?  Because America’s most vulnerable kids don’t get to go to the same schools I went to or my kids go to….not anything close.  Just to add one more layer to this….  Let’s just say for a minute that there’s a girl or a boy out there determined to overcome all the obstacles, regardless of where the live or the quality of their school.  How easy is it *really* to get out of poverty?  MIT economist Peter Temin’s research shows that escaping poverty requires almost 20 years with nearly NOTHING going wrong.

The Shithole Places

I could write for days and days of my disgust in seeing Trump’s vile characterization of entire continents and countries.  It’s not wrong on so many levels.  But, here’s another inconvenient truth: many Americans (most of whom would never admit it) are shocked by the vulgarity but not by the comparison itself.  Admit it.  We easily and often think of Haiti and/or Africa as places plagued by poverty, corruption, etc.  At a certain level, this is true.  But, again, one must ask WHY.  For anyone willing to merely scratch the surface of history, the answer becomes painfully and abundantly clear.

Take Haiti.

Haiti was long a French colony that helped fuel the French Empire/Europe, providing 2/3 of the sugar and coffee consumed.  When Haiti pursued its own path to independence, it spent nearly all of the 19th century trying to pay the $150 million gold francs French landowners demanded for freedom, in addition to being punished by American and European powers that refused to trade with them.  While we didn’t do trade with them, we did loan them money (to pay the $150M in French debt), though in 1914 President Wilson had the US Marines empty the Haitian gold reserve.  This led to years of occupation and unrest across Central American and the Caribbean.  You get the picture….  This history isn’t new, though I owe this more succinct account to the January 11th tweets by author and journalist Jonathan Katz, who has spent time living and reporting from Haiti.

He concluded his thoughts on Haiti this way, as he speculated how anyone could justify such comparisons between Norway and Africa or Haiti.

IMG_0840

You could write a similar story about Africa and the devastating impact of colonial rule combined with the slave trade.   It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect the dots between the theft of people and land over many centuries with the challenges today.  But, it does take a curiosity to learn and a heart of compassion to act.

The Bold and Humble

Confession: I’m still have a lot to learn on my Micah 6:8 Journey.  You’d think that after 18 months of studying racism and privilege, I’d have had a reply for the man walking behind me down to beach.  These everyday encounters are just one of the places where we may begin dismantling the many layers of bias, ignorance and indifference….  No matter how awkward or hard, it is time to call it what it is and sit with the discomfort.  As Roxanne Gay wrote in yesterday’s New York Times,

This is a painful, uncomfortable moment.  Instead of trying to get past this moment, we should sit with it, wrap ourselves in the sorrow, distress and humiliation of it.  

And then, rather than resign to despair, we must let our holy discontent fuel our fight.  Bit by bit we must call racism out and destroy it.  It is not easy, but we stand in a moment where we must be both bold and humble.  We must step-out of our silos and tribes, stand-up to injustice and fight for what’s right.   At the same time, we must never stop asking questions and humbly listening to answers.  THE WHY matters because people matter.

fullsizerender-28On Monday, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  If we are to truly honor his legacy, we cannot be silent, or, as he put it, remain “neutral in times of great moral conflict”.  Fast forward to today – you cannot endorse or even ignore Trump’s ‘shithole’ comments on Thursday and then try to be an ally to the cause of justice and equality the following Monday.  Speaking further to the dangers of neutrality, holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said, “neutrality ALWAYS favors the oppressor.”  Intuitively, we all know that oppression and injustice is wrong.  Let’s have the curiosity and compassion to actually do something about it.  Echoing the brave women in the #MeToo fight, TIME’S UP!  NOW is the time to do that something.

NOW is the time to get back on the rollercoaster of endless possibilities.  NOW is the time to ask WHY and understand better.  NOW is the time to seek what Oprah called the ‘absolute truth’ rejecting partial truths or fabrications.  NOW is the time to listen to our kids (who will one day stop asking), as well as those with completely different perspectives, be they across town or around the globe.  NOW is the time for faith leaders to categorically condemn bigotry and racism, as well as the perpetrators of it.  NOW is the time to dream for, what my grandmother called, ‘Nobler Heights’.  We do this primarily because it is the right thing to do.  And, we do this so that when we are old and our grandchildren are asking us unending questions, they will never ask us why we said or did nothing in moments like these.