Sunday morning Mark brought me coffee in bed. Advantage of having a husband that wakes up early. It was a nice way to wake up. A nudge and a hot cup waiting on the nightstand.
He brought it in a cup of Mallory’s that I don’t usually pull out of the cabinet because it’s shaped funny at the top. The rim sort of slants outward, and it spills easily.
I sat up in bed and proceeded to drink a little and spill a little down my pajamas and read the news feed on my phone. Depressing, horrifying, embarrassing. Headline after headline after headline. A sour promise kept. People frightened and confused, outraged by the sudden change in immigration policy. Disillusioned families with their little lives in handled boxes. Little kids in holding rooms in airports. Grandmas shuffling too long in line, afraid to question why. Fathers with tears streaming down their brown, creased faces. Helpless to help their own.
Weariness overcomes. In the face of powerlessness, weariness overcomes. Whether the brother waiting to pick up his immigrating brother, or the woman a thousand miles away in her pajamas with her coffee. Weariness overcomes those powerless to help.
And can a voice or a hand over distance and time find a sobbing soul and bring solace? Can a heart that aches in one place shore up another in solidarity?
And good people. Strangers and friends and lawyers with their signs up and their voices up and their calls for justice up on display. Can their presence in the place of such injustice bandage up that hurtful rend?
I don’t know.
The aftermath of the vileness is played out in imaginary scenes of discourse. It is unseemly now to speak of it. Stop with the negativity. Let’s bide our time and bind our tongues. Let’s wait and see. Let’s take care of our own. We the blessed. In these stories, that come too quickly one after another, do you know what saddened me the most? More than the meanness and the rants and the name-calling and the justifications? What wearied me the most? The silence. The silence of Christians.
So, I did not feel like going to church. I did not feel like getting up at all. Cody, my dog smiles, came by though and sighed at me. And the cat jumped down off of my lap. So I got into the shower, taking my spilly cup with me.
I put the cup up on the ledge of the shower door where the soap wouldn’t splash in, climbed in and wet my hair. I bet you think that the next thing that happened was that the cup fell and shattered and cut my bare foot and made me feel stupid but no. That’s not what happened. Instead I looked up at the cup and read the side of it, that I had never noticed or read before, and it said “The strength you need comes from God.”
I went to church. Make-up on and boots and coat and breakfast in the car. I sang and smiled and hugged the little ones that were happy to see me. And we all together operated like it was a normal morning though it wasn’t. I sang like if I was loud enough it could do something good. I sang like if it was pretty enough it could make something better.
And the prayer in the middle of the song came and out loud the words were spoken that we know about the suffering of those many in airports, and we hurt for it too. That we abhor the hate which brought it about and the silence that conditions its survival. That we take on the burden of their justice ourselves and will break the wrong law for the right. That we ache for the fear of the refugee longing, and we will take what we have to make for them a new home. Amen.
Lifted, I felt. Up three gusts from the hours before.
And like a feather just tossed I settled slowly back down to hear the next words that were said by a good man in a good place. Doing Good. That was the title. And the resource, our founder, John Wesley:
By being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all men…
By running with patience the race which is set before them, denying themselves, and taking up their cross daily; submitting to bear the reproach of Christ, to be as the filth and offscouring of the world; and looking that men should say all manner of evil of them falsely, for the Lord’s sake.
I feel the echo of the impact of these words again in repeating them to you. They caused me to flush in remembrance of my faith. To be again renewed in the knowledge that the faith which I have claimed boards no unkindness or suspicion of the stranger, allows no exemption for feigned caution, or distaste for his dress or smell or gait or prayer.
That, in fact, the confirmation of our right choices in word and deed, of his deserving of life and love and welcome, may be found in the very hatred of the world. The offscouring of the world. That scorch which the world scrapes off and wrinkles its nose at. That which was too long simmering at the bottom of lunch. That which would purpose others to scrub and toil to be rid of.
Maybe it’s weird that this would make me feel better. But it did. And it does.
I think this stranger today feels like the offscouring of the world. With no good place to dispose of his life. I think she feels like the filth with its demonization and its dark avoidance. I think they must feel this alienation starkly, for God’s sake.
I feel it for them. And on my best days, I am scoured with them.