I Felt Hope Again

This season has been rough, as a review of my blogs would attest. My feelings about the election are well known, this estrangement sucks the energy out of my every day,  horror blasts me as I watch the news to find another mass shooting or another unarmed black man shot by a police officer, then of course my double concussions set me back for several months. It has been hard to find the joy, to see the promise when all around felt bleak and my head hurt. My soul was searching, I kept showing up to church, looking for the light. Yesterday, in my car, I finally felt the warmth of the sun even in autumn, I knew the Light was surrounding me even in this darkness. Oddly enough, my hope came from an NPR story about the NFL.

I have listened and read for 9 months now as people are made less depending on skin color or religion or income or gender. I have witnessed friends and families divide, as love for this country becomes about a piece of cloth and not the people who wave it. Wondering where empathy went, how we became so full of anger and hate that we could no longer even hear each other, I grew increasing fearful of talking to anyone about the matters that were breaking my soul. Still, I avoided seeking out only like minded people, a danger as bubbles keep us safe only for a moment, when they pop we are exposed and vulnerable and our lack of global information becomes evident. Yet, the darkness was burying me, I too wanted to hide under the blankets and let someone else worry about Puerto Rico and mass incarceration and immigration and all the Harvey Weinsteins of the world. I admit I was only seeing the shadows, the light was dim, as if sun glasses were shading me. Surely the Light was there all the time.

During this report on NPR, I heard an interview about the talks between the players and the owners and this comment from Roger Goddell saying, “The discussion was very productive and very important. It reflected our commitment to work together with our players on the issues of social justice.” Yes, friends, this was the source of all my hope, this is when the light broke through. The tears flowed, the dam of sorrow burst open. We have been witness to history, that subtle shift in time when patterns long held are broken, when light shines through the cracks. The NFL players who have been protesting  in a civil rights manner akin to Martin Luther King Jr, using their power positions to draw attention for those who have no national stage, to amplify the voices of those who are silenced, it worked. The commissioner of the NFL, the most powerful sport in the country, used the words “commitment to social justice. ”

When I heard those words, I experienced deep sweet hope. I had forgotten the feeling, such was my despair. I was overwhelmed, the light was so bright, the joy was so great. Does it seem silly to have taken my cue that life is going to be okay from a radio show and not from the orange leaves in the trees or the wooly worms preparing for winter? Maybe I just needed a rich powerful man to not say the protesters were wrong, I needed someone in power to say the words social justice. Whatever the reason, however it came about, I was reminded that sometimes it really is darkest before the dawn and the truth about our current days is that we have a chance to be the light we hope to see. We can bring more peace and social justice and love and hope during these turbulent days, that is how we make the cracks, all of us shaking things up a bit. His Light will shine with us, will go before us, if we are brave enough to do what is right. Sometimes that is standing up, sometimes sitting down, sometimes even kneeling. We may be called to speak up or gather together silently. Following the lead of Jesus, we will bring the light, we will bring more hope into this broken world.

Friends, I hope you can find a bit of light today. Maybe you are the illumination someone else is waiting for. Thanks for joining me here during the darkest days as I keep searching for my own shining sliver. I felt hope again and my God it was glorious.

Honoring Those Who Served

Another Memorial Day, another opportunity to honor those who have served in our armed services, those who have lost their dreams and sacrificed their desires in battles that I can’t begin to fully understand. I absolutely am thankful for the men and women who have fought those wars and left us early and I am grateful even for those who served and lived and then returned to work and build families and communities. My battle is deeper, or bigger, with the concepts of fighting and killing and the senseless wars that we engage in around the world and the ways in which young poor people are given little option but the military as a means out of poverty. Always somewhat of a rebel, I have not been a flag waver just because we have one, I ask more questions. The current most distressing condition of our country begs for more questions, it seems our most patriotic duty, to really honor those who have fallen, is to ask the really hard questions right now.

I wonder at the label “Patriot” and how that has been so perverted to include those who spread hate and divisions and allow our country, our America!, to be infiltrated by the Russians. More and more evidence is surfacing that the elections were rigged, that the administration has been working back channels, that many of the GOP are in the pocket of Putin. I am no history major but I have read and watched a good deal about the McCarthy era and just cannot figure out how we have swung so far. During that time, the mere hint, a whisper, of being Communist got people blacklisted, changed the course of their lives. Now hearings are being convened again, subpoenas are issued, alarms are going off and excuses are made, flags are waved. Some people do not even want to look closer, to ask any questions, they are so filled with hate for Hillary that they cannot fathom anything said about their candidate is true. Tuned out, backs to the screen, fingers in their ears. How is that patriotic?

As the wreaths are laid today and the old pictures are posted on social media and families gather to remember grandpas and uncles who fought in wars long ago and aunts who have served more recently, I just have to ask what those who have fought would have us do? Blindly trust, shut down journalists, allow unskilled family members to take over in the West Wing, watch as Foreign Governments sound alarms? What did our fallen brothers and sisters give up their lives for? Wasn’t it that we would live free? Free to follow our Constitution, free to allow all the branches to work effectively in checks and balances? Free to worship? Free to serve each other and grow in our diversity and welcome those who are tired and hungry? Anyone who has served overseas has witnessed the ravages of war and understands the wealth we have here and the duty of our land to share and welcome those who are escaping tyranny. We grow stronger as a nation by listening to each other and to smart people in true journalistic endeavors who show us not only what is happening on battlefields but behind closed doors and during election nights and within the Oval office.

This Memorial Day, may we truly honor those who have given all by giving our all to keeping this land free. May we ask those tough questions of ourselves that may force us to admit we got duped. May we open our doors to those who are needing refuge from mass incarceration or the new war on “different.” Our grandpas and uncles and aunts and mothers will thank us for making their sacrifice worth it.