Will we ever get there?
One part of traveling that I do not miss is the nearly-constant barrage of questions from the back seat, all centered around the same theme: Are we there yet?
Children have a different sense of time–I’m not quite sure I’ll ever figure it out! And yet, in the midst of these days, I feel the same anxiousness to move on.
I’m ready to move on from COVID-19. I understand the science, the time required to create a vaccine, and why it is urgently important for us to remain in this adjusted state of life, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing it was over. I can only imagine how much more a front-line nurse or a restaurant owner feels this sentiment. Are we there yet? How much longer? Are we going to be in this car—er, house—forever?
Even more, I am ready to move on from racism. I realize that, at face value, that looks like an unbelievably insensitive statement; hear me out. I wish we were done with it. I wish I didn’t have more to learn. I wish its effects no longer lingered over every aspect of our lives, our neighborhoods, our schools, our economics, our friendships. As a white person, having my eyes opened is tiring. This is nothing compared to the life-long exhaustion of people of color. I may be off base, but I think we’d all like to get out of the car on this one, to have arrived at a destination of true justice and equality. Are we there yet? Have we arrived at the Beloved Community? How much longer? Will we ever get there? Again I am reminded how long people of color have been asking these questions.
All the self-help and wellness gurus out there are singing the song of self-care, to take care of ourselves, engage in the work of justice, continue in acts of mercy, but take breaks to get what we need, because it’s going to be a long haul. Sure, that’s good advice, but Jesus is not a self-help guru. If anything, his example leads us down roads that are harder than we would naturally choose for ourselves. His life, death, and resurrection are the in-breaking of the Kindom of God, the first sign and living promise that we will, one day, arrive at the place where the world is made whole.
But in the meantime, he does not withhold blessing. From that longed-for destination, he brings blessings like cold water to one traversing the desert, and he showers it on those who need it most. “Blessed are you who are poor…blessed are you who are hungry now…Blessed are you who weep now…Blessed are you when people hate you…for yours is the kingdom of God…you will be filled…you will laugh.” (Luke 6:20-23)
I think of those who most need this blessing today—those who are literally protesting for the right to their own lives, and who have been doing so for centuries. Sure, standing with them is tiring, but it’s where I find the blessing falling on me, too.
I’ll close this letter with the words of Father Gregory Boyle, whose life shows us a steady journey of “standing with”:
“We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away. The prophet Habakkuk writes, ‘The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment and it will not disappoint . . . and if it delays, wait for it.’ Kinship is what God presses us on to, always hopeful that its time has come.”
Keep the faith, friends, and let’s keep going.