Sometimes, I just have to share what is going on in my brain. I read articles, clean my house, prepare lesson plans, bake brownies; I absorb news of tragedies, then spend hours in the throes of potty training. I have my disorienting life, just like you. Except I am discovering more and more, that stories of peace affect me profoundly, giving me hope. Stories of violence bring me to my knees, my heart connected to them in some way or another. It's the kingdom of God: The now and not yet.
Here are some things that gave me pause this week.
The Not Yet:
Not going to lie, this article sent me on a downward spiral. It profiles a South African couple who moved into the slums for a month in order to experience what it was like. The article focuses on much of the push back the couple received, which was both warranted and not. All in all, these issues are what we are needing to think through. It touches on two of the important topics of my heart: how we share our stories, and what it means to try and identify with the poor (and the constraints therein). After I read this I had to go have a real long time of prayer and reflection.
Also, my friend Rachel Pieh Jones had some excellent thoughts in response to the above article.
This is an extremely difficult and important article to read. Jonathan Ferrell was shot and killed by the police while he was trying to obtain medical care from a car accident he was in. The ramifications of this story ripple out in ways that affect all of us.
This one hits me hard and fierce and personal. I know people who live in Nairobi, both Kenyan and Somali. I work in communities that are actively targeted by Al-Shabab. I am angry at the violence, how it makes victims out of all of us--even the shooters.
"Ultimately Gravity exists to help the women and children in red-light areas, refugee camps, sewers and slums who deserve better. Who can’t afford another painful loss or sad goodbye. Who don’t need young idealists to show up in their neighborhoods with promises of hope or freedom only to last a couple of years before they decide they want to go back to grad school or pour coffee 20 hours a week while figuring out what else they want to do with their privileged freedoms."
Yes. Trip to Omaha, anyone?
This poem really moved me. I can't stop thinking about it. What does it say that I have no room in my imagination for a Jesus who got himself a reputation as being a glutton? Somebody who loved life a bit too much, in the eyes of the religious elite. This was a challenging meditation for me this week, but it brought me so much joy. Go read it.
I just love stuff like this. Prophetic Imagination FTW!
A quote from Madeline L'Engle, from the daily devotional Glimpses of Grace:
"As I read the Old and New Testament's I am struck by the awareness therein of our lives being connected with cosmic powers, angels and archangels, heavenly principalities and powers, and the groaning of creation. It's too radical, too uncontrolled for many of us, so we build churches which are the safest possible places in which to escape God. We pin him down, far more painfully than when he was nailed to a cross., so that he is rational and comprehensible and like us, and even more unreal. And that won't do. That will not get me through death and danger and pain, nor life and freedom and joy."
A picture, which is worth a thousand words: (by Jim LePage, original found here)
And a promise from God which has given me inordinate amounts of comfort this week:
"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:26-31
I am such a weak thing in this world; I have nothing to boast in that doesn't come from the one who loves with an everlasting love.