Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wake Up.

I sit here watching her sleep.  I notice the simple rhythm of breathing as her tiny body rises ever so gently with each inhale.  One arm folds around in a self-hug, her hand tucked warmly in the crevice of the elbow.  A sudden movement and she rubs her eye.  A sleepy reminder that this nap is not ready to be over.  I watch her and my heart aches.

What kind of world will she grow up in?
One that values the lives of all people or one that will teach her that no where is safe?  Not even schools.   Or sidewalks.  Or churches.

What kind of world will she grow up in?

A world wrought with the horrors of violence and racism, sexism and hate? Or one of justice and compromise, conversation and respect?

Will the things we teach her now matter at all when she is 5 or 15 or 25?

As someone who was born with white skin, how can we teach her that people who look different are still brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, friends, co-workers, schoolmates?  And by the time she is grown will the barriers be drawn even tighter than they are now?

I sit here watching her sleep.  So peacefully.  Not a fear in the world.  And my heart aches.

My heart aches because she is so innocent to the horrific things that happen in this world.

My heart aches because there are so many children who do not know the peace she knows...and never will.

My heart aches because every day we come to a church and we always feel safe.  We take it for granted.  And now for so many people, predominately those whose skin is darker than mine, that sense of safety at church has been replaced with fear, and hate, and blood.  Where else can they go?

How long, O Lord, how long?

We all want to do something to create positive and lasting change.
The sooner we step beyond ourselves and our own sense of privilege and pride, the sooner we can cry with those who are afflicted.  The sooner we can mourn the loss of our siblings in Christ.  And the sooner we can step into our specific role in the work of justice and peace.

I don't know where to begin, or what to do, so I suppose I will start with myself and the precious little girl whom I call daughter.

Love people.  ALL people.
Racism is still a problem.  What can I do to recognize it and be a part of healing rather than division?
You never know what someone is going through.  Be kind.  Be kind.  Be kind.

The world has so much to offer.  Why do we feel the need to live as though it has been given to only a token few?
There is nothing we can do to reverse what has been done - violence towards our black brothers and sisters; violence toward those who love different, look different, believe different than another.

As a minister I wish I could say I understood why these things happen.  It would be foolish to pretend that I do.

But as a minister, and most importantly as just an ordinary person who loves God and tries to follow Jesus, I believe with every ounce of my being that God created the world in love for us all.  For us all.  And we are all - all - created in that holy image.  How can we destroy one another with our words, our hate, our prejudice?  How?  And almost more heartbreakingly - how can we go on living as though it doesn't matter?  How?

As I watch my daughter sleep, my heart aches for those whose lives were ripped apart last night in Charleston.  And for those who walk cautiously because they are afraid of people with skin like mine.  And how can I blame them?  So much damage has been done.  We must do what we can in the places we live to turn the tables of hate into platforms of peace.

It starts with one.  One sleeping baby to wake up.  One sleeping nation to be fed up with the way things are.

To my daughter - wake up to the world God so loves.  Claim you love it too.  And do everything in your power to see that love filter through every corner...of every place…you go.  Hate is limited but love knows no bounds.  Choose to be a part of love.  

Praying for Charleston.  Praying for Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Monday, June 15, 2015

(not) Too late to write...

I don't know what I'm doing.  My brain usually shuts off right at or just before 8:12 p.m.  I'm not usually in bed by now, rather curled up on the couch watching How I Met Your Mother reruns - asleep.  So the fact that I'm blogging only means one of three things:

1.  I can't find any reruns of HIMYM while channel surfing and I'm too lazy to grab one of our (every) season on DVD.
2.  Abbey is in dreamland and Jeff is at band practice.
3.  Inspiration has rattled my bones.

Okay it means two of three things.  Or all three but I haven't turned on the t.v. to see if I hit the trifecta.

But mainly, I'm putting a little nugget out here because I've been inspired and I need to hold myself accountable to that inspiration.  On Friday night I returned from the inaugural Frederick Buechner Writer's Workshop at Princeton Seminary.  I'll save the "small-town girl travels to the big city" post for another day.

Right now, with the dwindling bits of energy I have left, I want to put into just a few words how incredible the week was.  So - for brevity's sake, I'll use bad grammar, lots of quotes, and wonderful fragments.

-Barbara Brown Taylor is about as close to God as I've come so far in my 31 years.  And I was standing right next to her at the coffee shop one morning.  (I'm sure she wanted to talk to me just as badly, right?)  I know she's only human, but really, we all have to be star-struck fans every once in a while.
- When asked if there was a particular place she goes to write, BBT mentioned a little place on her property that helps her focus and center herself.  The questioner asked, "So like a hermitage?"  "Well," BBT shrugged, "…like a shed." It was funny. You had to be there.
-New friends are like a giant cold glass of Gatorade at the end of a run on a smothering kind of day.
-New friends who are amazing writers who you never would've met otherwise are like a gallon of cold Gatorade at the end of a run on a smothering kind of day.
-"Writing is sacrament.  Writing provides an occasion for mystery.  And mystery is the presence of more meaning than you can comprehend."  Thank you Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce.
-tell the truth
-"change occurs in the context of relationship"
-BBT - what does it mean to write for thousands of people?  - "it's not about vomiting up your hairballs in public"
-Rachel Held Evans - to be a writer, you need a thick skin and a tender heart.
-Sarah Arthur - What is that one thing you must start/finish/work on?
-"Journal writings are offerings of something like a prayer.  There is an audience who hears us, even if we never share."  Thank you again, Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce.

I want to be a writer.  There I said it.  To all seven of you! ;)

I don't know where to begin or where it will end, but someone once said you have to start somewhere.

Reading is a good place to start.  I am ashamed to admit there are many classics of which I have not creased the binding.

Therefore, may it be so that on this 15th day of June, 2015, I, Anne Ross Bruce, hereby declare this the

"Summer of Reading and Writing"

Which means I'm going to read and write like never before.

I have some thoughts on where to begin, but would appreciate any recommendations you can muster!

(I should set some concrete goals, though, shouldn't I?  But it's already 10:02...)

I knew it was too late to write…more where this came from.

"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
Frederick Buechner