I was off of social media all weekend. Instead I drove my kids through 112 degree heat to a country wedding, where we replaced our sweat with Tang and light beer in plastic cups, and I got to swing dance with a leather skinned man in cowboy boots.
We celebrated a couple and a community. We celebrated well. We stayed our task. But at night the conversation turned to national events. Strange backdrop, possibly, for a country wedding: a Supreme Court ruling to nationally legalize gay marriage, ongoing mourning for the deaths of nine black people in Charleston last week…Pride gearing up to be the biggest party ever and our social networking turning rainbow colors.
But also…the fires in Black churches.
We were not all one color of skin around that fire circle. Or all the same in sexual orientation, either, whatever you might expect of a Rocky Mountain country wedding. We started to talk, each from our own perspective, tentatively at first, but then with more confidence. The sky above us was wide and open. Our dreams tumbled out of our mouths with the fierceness of real hope.
That’s the way of it, you know, when you’re sitting on white rental chairs with plastic cups around a fire underneath the stars.
There’s so much room.
In some other places there is not so much room. Hospitals, job markets, gentrified neighborhoods. Homeless shelters and tent cities. Closed schools.
I was still off of social networking — driving back home this time, still in 110 degree weather — when #BlackOutPride disrupted the Chicago Pride parade, an action that ended in arrests.
I was still driving, managing my children in the heat and our exhaustion from our own celebrations, when I caught on to that insidious impulse to frame a competition between these two groups: black and brown people vs. queer people. I heard some say that one has it worse, I heard some say that the other has it worse. I heard some say that this is what’s wrong with justice warriors, they eat their own.
I was already talking to my children about Scarcity, what my friend Abby is writing about every Monday this summer. She’s writing about how we think there isn’t room, and so we grab with all our might to the little shreds we have. We tighten our hands, we end generosity, we live by the law of “look out for number one” and “keep what we deserve.”
But Kingdom math doesn’t work this way. Kingdom math is the opposite. You give away, and give away and give away, and “enough” multiplies like loaves and fishes.
In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis defined the principle of Heaven as perfect unity between souls; and the principle of Hell as the opposite of that. I came home in full dark last night and read the passage with a flashlight.
Friends, you don’t have to say, “this person is of higher value than this other person.” You just don’t ever have to say that. You say, “I believe in making room.” You say, “I will open my hands.” You say, “I’m listening.”
This is the principle of Heaven. I will give you my seat because your win is my win. I will celebrate your marriage rights because your #lovewins is my #lovewins. I will make room for your grief and mourn your trauma because your tears are my tears.
This is Heaven’s way: a unity of souls.
My heart is dancing that gay marriage has been legalized in all 50 states. My heart is dancing for #lovewins and rainbow parties and kisses on the streets.
My heart is weeping for burning churches, and dead Black churchgoers. And my heart is opening for Black queer people who do not feel cause for celebration today, in the face of violence, poverty, trauma and homelessness.
All these things are held in my heart as long as my heart is in the river of God’s love. Because God’s love is not a small room.
Funny thing, when I read Black…. Out…. Pride, I can read it as like a black permanent marker, marking through someone else’s lives, marking out everybody else’s chance to speak. Or…I can read it a little more literally. A pride in which the Black people are out…instead of hiding.
I can read these things differently, if I read them with my fear or with my faith.
I will not frame these happenings as a competition between Black people and queer people, as if the people doing #BlackOutPride in Chicago were not both. I will not frame these happenings in terms of Scarcity, underneath the leadership of Screwtape.
To tell the truth, those of us who are neither queer nor Black should look at these dynamics with no words other than, “I’m listening.”
In faith, we will scoot over and make room. In God’s love we will give up seats on all these benches. In the kingdom we will make room and room and more room — even if it means giving up real things, like money and power and safety. Maybe it does.
And if, when we are asked to make this kind of room, if we have to do so by sheer faith, because we don’t see how we are not already on the edge…? So be it. This is our win against the lies of Screwtape. We know better, that the kingdom is not a small room.
There has been an AMAZING amount of wonderful writing about civil rights in the last couple of weeks. Woah. Here’s Natasha Robinson: On Violence and Living in a Racialized Society: Silence Sends a Clear Message Where We Have an Opportunity to Act
And here, I love this piece by Kelly Wickham (Mocha Momma), where she puts the growth and movement of white church leaders into context. I love watching Momastery right now! Institutional Racism in the Church
And if you want to see the source of the #BlackOutPride in Chicago, here’s radfag.com