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Something God has been showing me lately is that I don’t have to be a prophet all the time.

This is a tremendous relief. For you, I’m sure, but just think — so much more for me. Think of the weight I’ve carried, feeling that I couldn’t ever rest from telling people things they don’t want to hear, that I couldn’t ever shrink from researching truths that make me and everybody else uncomfortable, that I couldn’t ever stop taking the mic and the stage in order to recite our litany of sins.

God has been teaching me this lesson — a hundred times and in a hundred ways, some of them very heavy handed — that in Him is rest.

I need to rest. I need to practice silence. I need to make space and make stillness and open my heart and love the things I love.

 

I resist this lesson — a hundred times and in a hundred ways. The reasons are many, and more than I can list here, but most you’ll recognize. I’m afraid of losing my identity, of not being able to participate in the old familiar social behaviors (never mind if they were dysfunctional — they were mine!), or that I won’t be important, or as powerful, or as much in control… The list goes on.

But there is one more terrifying thing, about letting go of the microphone, or stepping off the stage. There is something more unexpected, that happens when you relax into the wholeness and the open spaces of your life. Did you know this?

It makes your capacity for compassion rise like a flood. The awareness of other people’s experiences comes rushing in through all those spaces.

It means something different then, to mourn with those who mourn.

 

I mourn with Charleston. I mourn with black mothers, fathers, daughters and sons who are not safe from violence, even in a church, at prayer. I mourn with a nation that has four centuries of (versions of) slavery to repent. I fear the upheaval as much as anyone, but I also long for the reconciliation, without which our peace is not true.

It looks funny on my Twitter feed, these days. Here is my generally very safe white life, right next to my mourning for Charleston. It looks jarring. Funny. But this is what God is showing me.

Be whole, Esther. Let it all mix together. 

And if the contrast is stark? Let that speak for itself.

I am no longer in the business of holding divisions where they should not be.

 

I went to dinner the other night with my dad and his sister. Old school liberals, those two. We talked race and racism all night, occasionally stopping the conversation to make sure my 7 year old was caught up. “Milo, do you know what it means when we say “red lives matter?” We haven’t talked about that as much… Do you know what it means?”

He nodded. He’s more checked out on racial justice issues than he is on eating in fancy restaurants. He didn’t like his food, so I let him sit on my lap and I told the story of the time he said, “Mom, can we please stop talking about the dark-skinned people?” And I said, “No, buddy. I’m sorry. We can’t.”

This is such a truth, that God wants me full of joy, and capable of love, and brimming with praise. God wants me reaching into the joy of my life, growing things and growing people and being in relationship and not being angry and not being afraid.

God wants me whole;

and,

to mourn with those who mourn.

 

It’s more dangerous, isn’t it? To be spiritually at rest with God even in the line of fire? Not to be confused with staying out of the line of fire; that’s something different. But to be in faith, in stillness with the very spirit of God, as you observe the broad experience of Black people in America over four centuries. And then — to bring that right up to the dinner table, right into the garden, right into the whir and stream of family life.

And if the contrast is stark? Let that speak for itself.

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. – Hebrews 13:3

The language of wholeness begins to change. The food systems are implicated, the economics are implicated, the social structures are implicated. The steps to positive become less mysterious. We are no longer in the business of holding divisions where they should not be.

 

I mourn with you, Charleston. I mourn with you with my whole self, my unbroken self, my self which is capable of taking risks and making change. I mourn with you with the parts of me that are strong and restful, and not only the parts that will spin circles in big feelings and fear and then go back to bed.

This is my prayer. May God give me the courage to stand for love and the power to sit down for what is right. May I rest like a rock in the heart of Jesus, and may the story of my life speak for itself.  

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I’m linking up with Lisha Epperson today, for #GiveMeGrace and #WeLament. Please feel free to join us! Posts or comments or processing are welcome. Just reading is good, too. May we open our hearts more fully to one another, one tiny shifting moment at a time.

And as always, if you wonder why I think the things I think, I encourage you to read the things I read. Here is Austin Channing Brown – The Only Logical Conclusion. And here is Osheta Moore – What I Need You to Say in Response to the Shooting in Charleston.