It’s only January, but it seems like winter has been here forever. More snow this morning, and bitter cold. Sometimes it is hard to get motivated and get on with the busyness of life, as it seems the earth itself is hibernating and resting. Maybe a time of hibernation and rest is good for all of us.
But I think too many of us hibernate most of the time. We hide in our dark caves of denial and pretend that our little world is the only one that really matters, and everyone else’s problems are not ours to carry. We, like the ostrich who is terrified of his own shadow, stick our heads in the sand to hide, little realizing that the larger part of us, the derriere end of us, is sticking out and is just as vulnerable as our neighbor who is just as fearful as we are about the economy, the safety of our children and where we will all be in five years. None of us are exempt from trouble.
I read a wonderful post yesterday on Facebook, shared by my First Nation‘s friend, Kimberly Medicine Horn Jackson, which reads “I could see that the white man did not care for one another the way our people did …. They would take everything from each other if they could …. Some had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all ….. This could not be better than the old ways of my people.” (Black Elk)
We are a generous people at our core, and give when we hear of Tsunami’s and earthquakes, and starving children in other parts of the world. All of us are touched by the faces of tragedy, and give to those who are far away. Frankly, it is easy to donate with our credit cards, and say we are praying for people, but we can do that at a distance. There is so much tragedy in our own neighborhoods that we are loathe to address because it is SO CLOSE. It might touch us, contaminate us, or hurt us in some way.
At Thanksgiving and Christmas the food banks were filled to overflowing. Today the shelves are sparse, but people still need to eat. One of my local friends is a medical coder, and her heart breaks so many times a month as she enters “child sexual abuse exam” and notes that the suspected offender is a family member. Another friend is a courageous female cop who daily deals with the battering of women & children in our community. Another friend wrote a book about the challenges of domestic violence in the church – OUR churches (“A ,” which was just recently reviewed in CREDO, but they removed it due to pressure from folks who don’t agree with some of us. Jeff Crippen, the author, has republished this review on his own blog). I’d recommend everyone read the review, and then buy the book for your pastor!
We have hungry & broken people all around us. We can’t feed everyone, we can’t house everyone, we can’t protect every child …. but we can LISTEN. We can admit that we don’t understand what it might be like to have lost your job, or have lost your home, or have experienced sexual abuse by your daddy, or be locked in a closet by your mama. We can admit that we haven’t got a clue what it is like to realize you are attracted to a person of the same gender and are terrified to tell your friends & family because you are sure they will look at you with disgust and cast you out of the fold.
Until you have walked in the shoes of someone who has experienced pain, you cannot judge them. Micah 6:8 tells us: “Oh people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Do what is right. It is right to be kind and listen. Love mercy …. that means we have to BE merciful, and stop judging. Walk humbly with your God …. remember who Jesus walked with – dirty, confused, argumentative disciples and women who society scorned.
Hibernate and rest, but we have work to do when morning comes.