“I’m sad,” several people have said to me today.
And after sitting with that feeling myself a lot in recent weeks, I’ll share this much that I know:
I stared at the rich Birmingham cloudscape as I drove this afternoon, praying all the while for you, my West Coast friends and your kin and neighbors, spending this day under anxious, orange, ash-choked skies – those, that is, with enough space, at best, to look up from imperiled yet intact houses and unscorched streets.
Regardless of one’s politics, 9/11 is fraught with memory and some form of grief.
True also for the wrenching toll of COVID, from death to disruption, from hard choices to hidden realities of the entire scope of human suffering.
And then: there really is no circumstance that compels sympathy from me for our current president. Yet I acknowledge the ache to offer equilibrium in the midst of terrible tragedy, to conjure up steady presence even when the news is grim, to open your arms wide to hold the pain and uncertainty of those you’re tasked to lead. I’m not saying he feels that way. I myself feel that way and so do many of you – and I found that thought buried in his words about deception.
I put my faith in grace and some days that’s like breathing fumes.
Black Lives Matter. Period. I don’t know how to say that any more clearly.
In a season of quiet, complex pastoral care, there’s a constant tangle of “you’ve got to be kidding me – how much more can this good soul have to deal with?” and “okay, that’s a good step – at least for right now, I think” – all mixed in with the sorrow of not being able to do more and the humble peace of being trusted with intimate stories of joy and struggle.
Every one of us here – at one level or another – carries some version of this weight right now. The notion that we’re all in this together – which is the reality of interdependence – has grown, as it tends to do in the neoliberal age, into a competition for the moral or material high ground or at least the code to the bunker of some fictive, exclusive safety. That’s one of the deepest shames of this whole moment.
We are sad.
And rightly so.
Yet as long as we have breath in us, we are blessed with life. That is no small blessing.
May we breathe, grieve, hope, pray, learn, share, wherever this night finds us.
This is what I know.