My heart hurts today. Yesterday when I wrote my blog about the shootings in Charleston I did not know the overt racism of the shooter who came to shoot black people. Since then I have been drawn to watching the news and hating it. Hating it.
Particularly over the past ten years, I have been on a journey of a deepening understanding of the racism that is part of our country's heritage. Jon Stewart last night said this: "Once again we have to peer into the abyss of the violence that we do to each other in the nexus of the gaping racial wound that will not heal and yet we pretend it doesn't exist. "
So I sit in a place of sadness and a renewed awareness of the stain of racism and knowing that in my white privilege there will always be limits to my fully understanding what it is to be African American. I went to the eye doctor this week and know that you can think you see better than you do. I recognize that I really want to believe that things are better than they are in this country. In my illusion of harmony, I think I take every instance of violent racism as an instance and not want to put it together to really see the underbelly of hate that is alive and kicking.
I think about this man who shot 9 good people in a church of all places and know that his hate has been fed somewhere - through websites, books, others. It does not just spring out of his own mind.
It is not just mental illness - but a remnant of what John Ridley calls the "mass psychoses that have endured in this country for about 160 years. You begin to understand why we have these very calcified views.”
The hateful divisions among people are not only racial. This is the first time in 7 years that I will not be able to walk in the gay pride parade. There we routinely encounter the terrible epithets of "Christians" who believe that gays are going to go to hell. I want to believe this is a small minority but the truth is that as we wait to see what the Supreme Court does with marriage equality we know that many people continue to reject gays and use the Bible as their weapon.
So I begin this day aware of what I never want to see - hate and ignorance that hurts our brothers and sisters and fractures our country. This country that I love.
At the same time I live my life as a woman of faith - believing in a God of love and grace and most of all UNITY. I am a Disciple of Christ - big D as well as little d. I am part of a "movement for wholeness in a fragmented world." And so while I begin this day looking into the abyss, I know that God continues to work.
The historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church will grieve and mourn and come back to do their work of love, compassion and service to the community. God will continue to open the eyes of all of us that need to see that the work of reconciliation is never done and that we are called to build bridges and live into the vision of unity of all people that is the Realm of God.
And despair will not have the last word. Here is the poem by Rumi that Elizabeth Lesser shares:
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.
Don't open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down the dulcimer.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kiss the ground.