Last week, two very opposite realities collided for me. On the one hand, I was processing all sorts of anger, grief, frustration, and hopelessness. In the course of one week, two more African-American men were killed at the hands of police officers, and five police officers were killed in retaliation. Though each case was different, all I could see was blood and death and racism. By the end of the week, I was despairing, wondering how we could pull our act together to be able to have open, honest, vulnerable conversations about our own participation in the sin of racism without turning to violence and degradation.
On the other hand, as the reports from Dallas were filling TV screens, I was on my way to a weekend getaway – a vacation planned long ago with some dear friends. The following days involved sun, sand, food, art, yoga, laughter, and joy. Part of me felt guilty for having so much fun, but part of my soul really needed that time away. It was cleansing and restorative, and in some ways, could not be better timed.
As I made my way home on Monday, I found myself listening to and seeing stories of reconciliation: Protestors and counter-protestors hugging; a Police Chief being raw and real about how hard being a police officer is; a surgeon, who worked tirelessly on the same police officers that he, as a black male, fears in daily life. As I drove home, I passed a rest area that had a simple sign: LOVE. I have always loved Virginia’s slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers,” but never have I appreciated how deeply that lesson could go. Virginia has made a claim on love – the same claim that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ asks us to claim every day.
And in case I did not receive the message clearly enough, I am blessed with two children who have the capacity to show unbounded love. Hugs, kisses, giggles, and gentle pats on my face were the tangible reminders of what love can do out in the world. How each of us makes a claim on love will vary. But traveling through an airport, seeing all the world’s people crammed into one place is a great way to see how broadly and widely we will need to love if we take up the mantle of Christ. The good news is that the Spirit is already working to empower us to be agents of love. Our work is to let the Holy Spirit work on us.