Today I feel as though words completely fail me, but also an urgency to put something down in light of all I’m hearing around me.
Like many friends this week, I’m overwhelmingly sad about many things. I’m sad for the people of France. I’m sad about the fear that has spread in response. I’m sad that refuge-seekers have become the enemy in many peoples’ heads and hearts.
How have we so lost our way that we refuse to put ourselves in the shoes of those not born into utmost privilege and wealth and safety? How do we so easily slap a giant red mark against millions of innocent without losing sleep at night?
I weep for my friends who have come to this country to give their families a life free of war and destruction, only to be marginalized and they themselves now labeled as dangerous. My prayer for today is that we would all come to understand that our words have power and meaning and weight. Our words affect people, and should not be thrown about carelessly, even if social media makes it all-too possible. When you speak out against the “other”, please consider the people who have already re-settled in your community who may read those words. Who are reading your words. Your messages are loud and clear. Your words matter, and they are directed at someone with a face and a life and a story.
Wouldn’t it be more productive to come to know the refugees in your town so as to see for yourself whether or not they come to harm and not to avoid harm? Do you know someone of the Muslim faith of which you’re speaking out against? Harboring hate and mistrust for those we don’t understand does not avoid war, it invites it. Extend your hand, brothers and sisters. Offer understanding, lend them your ears, hear their story.
I am sickened to hear of the Mosque in my city being vandalized. I’m sickened to read vicious comments online that would never dared be uttered out loud in a face-to-face conversation. I’m sickened to know there are groups of people in the world who want nothing more than to bring harm and fear to entire countries. But I will try every day to live in accordance with what I know to be true, which is that fear and ignorance is not the answer. It never was, and it never will be. The world I desire for my future children is the one I will strive to live out. It is full of compassion, care, unapologetic acceptance, and reckless hope that things can be better than they are.
I have far to go on this journey. I’m still processing and grieving and trying to understand all that is happening around me this week. But I’ll end with a beautifully relevant prayer shared with my church family a few weeks ago. Please join me in considering kindness and grace over fear and anger.
Our Lord God, in the story of the good Samaritan,
We confess that we are the priest and the Levite.
Not only did we walk past, we walked away.
We were too busy, too frightened, our hearts were
too cold. In our own abundance, we were too poor
in spirit to bear the cost. In our own comfort, we
were too complacent to suffer any inconvenience.
Yet, it was the Samaritan, a man despised
and without pride of position or parentage,
who was faithful and loving and who gave
of himself sacrificially.
Father God, in your mercy, say that it is not
too late for us. Another may have borne the
burden, but we can go to the inn and sit with
the afflicted while they heal.
We can bathe their wounds and feed them
and lighten their spirit until the Good One
returns. Grant us the grace to do that little
service with a grateful heart; and stand with
us so that we will not walk away and shun
the greater service the next time.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy on us sinners.
We pray in the name of the Father,
of the Risen Son
and of the Holy Spirit.