I just laid my babe in his crib, safe, belly full.
I wonder about the world he will grow in, a world wonderful and a world broken. I felt the weight of his small body as I nursed him and the weight of the world streamed heavy down my chin & neck.
Some days it just seems unbearable & today I cannot bear it.
I didn’t even know what to pray, only: peace, peace, peace.
Oh, and Father, hold them.
Another man killed, another city bombed, another wave of terror at home and far, far away from home.
I cannot help but think of my dear friend who stood by her husband’s side this week as he was sworn in as a police officer. I pray for her all the time, for her tiny boys, for protection.
I cannot help but think of my baby brother, who is young and black, careless and precious. I pray for him all the time, for his future, for protection.
I find it impossible to stand in a space that is black or white with any conviction or contentment, but rather find myself kneeling in the in-between, gasping for a breath of a prayer, a groan, anything. Feeling fury from both sides, all fire and hate and fear.
Is it weakness not to take sides? Am I neutral, passive, limp? Or am I hoping for a better future for my children? One where we aren’t afraid of something simply because we haven’t experienced or understood it. One where we don’t make assumptions, but we listen to stories and know names and faces rather than data and party lines and news reports.
I want to hold my friend’s hand, as she wakes in the night, alone, while her husband works to serve, to protect. I am here for you.
I want to hold my brother’s hand, in a world where the odds seem stacked against him and prejudices run deep and dangerous. I am here for you.
I want to mourn with those at Pulse and in Baghdad and in refugee camps around the world and with a mother in Minnesota who will never hug her son again: I am here for you.
I don’t know what it’s like to be in your place, but I want to learn & I want to listen. I see you: you are precious and you are loved.
I want to be a bridge, a connecting piece. And yet, I am not at all sturdy enough, each wave of terror and senseless bloodshed breaking me. I would rather be smooth timber: strong, resolute, you know, something useful in the bridge making business. Instead I am all splinters.
I don’t always know what to do with these feelings, with this discomfort, this constant poking under the skin of my soul. How do I carry these heartaches into action?
Yesterday I described myself as a bleeding heart. Later, wondering if I knew what I was saying, I looked up the definition. It means dangerously soft-hearted. I can tell you this: being soft hearted feels like just about anything except dangerous. It feels like paralysis.
I want to make peace with the world, but I can’t even make peace in my own home. I want to fix big problems, but easily ignore the littles ones I can actually fix: you know, those pesky ones having to do with me. I want to fix education in impoverished countries and school lunches and gender inequality. I want to protect innocent unborn life and sex slaves and find homes for orphans and help mothers everywhere. I want to live a brave life, but I also want to make an escape plan every place I go.
I don’t know what I will be able to do about these things in my lifetime, but I know what I will do today: I will cry with those who cry, I won’t try to fix a heart that bleeds, but hope for a day where I know more stories and names than I know statistics and opinions, and that these things would be useful in building a bridge that is so wide and so strong that there would no longer be sides in sight, just humans, dearly loved by our Creator and each other.
Will you join me there — splinters and all?