I woke up at 4 this morning when the dogs went crazy in their crates because a cat upchucked on the bedroom floor, and they wanted at it. They wanted at it bad. I made my husband get up and crawl around looking for the drop of hacked spittle.
But I could not go back to sleep.
I had read this post before I went to bed. And Deidra’s words still echoed in my head.
I kept waiting to hear from the predominantly white evangelical church in America. I kept waiting for someone from that community to chime in and say something—anything. Even something like, “I see what’s happening in Ferguson. I don’t understand it, but I want to. Can someone help me understand it?”
On Facebook, she posted,
I’ve been waiting. Wondering if any of my white sisters and brothers might chime in on the mess in #Ferguson. I was losing heart and losing hope . . .
Dear Deidra, I’m terrified to tackle topics like this on my little blog of stillness.
But I began to write a post in my head.
I thought of the black (man? couple? family?) who tried to rent a room late one night in our little Northern Michigan motel back in the mid or late ’50s. My father told them they’d just filled the last room and pointed them up the road. Then he went out to change the sign from “vacancy” to “no vacancy.” I remember more sadness in his voice when he came in–not hate. Maybe fear? Of repercussions from other customers who if it was hunting season would have had guns? I don’t know. I was young. My memory doesn’t know all the facts. Doesn’t hold all the facts. But it’s what I remember as my first “close encounter.”
I thought of all the patients I’ve cared for as a nurse and realized I never really saw color. I saw sick people who all wore open-flapped gowns and needed care.
I tried to remember what I knew about the Detroit riots at the time, but I think I was way too caught up in my own little world between the end of high school and the beginning of nursing school.
I remembered passing through a little town in north Georgia where Ku Klux Klan members were passing out literature. We rolled up our windows, locked our doors, shook our heads, and drove on through. I remembered that our pastor once invited a black youth group from a nearby town to our church after the Klan had announced a Sunday rally. I have a dim memory that he may have received threats.
I thought about my son’s black friend, a really nice boy from a really nice family who moved to Lansing and got caught up with the wrong crowd. He shot and killed someone.
I hate that I just don’t understand or remember or retain all the facts.
I love Deidra. I love her heart. I love her passion as a prophetess for racial diversity and reconciliation. I love that she offers a safe place to discuss our questions, a place to listen and learn.
This morning I began to read through blog links she’s collecting, friends offering their voices. It’ll take me through the weekend or longer to read them all. I’ve had the news on this morning as new information pours in.
I’m overwhelmed with it all.
And then there are Ebola and depression and crucifixions and beheadings and news breaking everywhere.
So much pain. So much anger. So much cruelty. So much hate. So much evil.
And I anything I could say about Ferguson or the heart of the matter seems so ignorant and misinformed. I don’t know all the facts. My brain won’t hold it all. Won’t compute it all.
I know that I can touch skin of other color, but I can’t crawl beneath it and feel the heartbeat.
I can ask the questions, “How is it with you? How is it for you? Really?”
Still, I don’t know that I can ever really get it.
But I know that every life matters. Every. Single. Life. No matter if it wears black or white or chocolate or yellow or green or purple skin. Every Michael Brown matters. Every Darren Wilson matters.
So I didn’t write that post this morning.
Even these words sound dumb and superficial.
But, dear Deidra, I do see what’s happening in Ferguson. I don’t understand it, but I want to. Thank you for trying to help me understand it.
I can’t go there. I don’t know how.
But I want to. I really do.
I’ll sit in the ashes with you.
And this I pray.
I pray for vacancy in my mind to understand.
I pray for vacancy in my heart for love.
In the stillness,