At first, it was because my life was too boring. 98% of my life was monotonous. Repetitive. Wake, work, cook, clean, sleep, repeat.
With everyone at home, our house was perpetually strewn with school papers, crumbs, trash, electronic devices and their various power cords, books, dirty socks, and the other detritus left in archaeologically insignificant layers on every horizontal surface ... I just couldn't.
I once went five days without showering. Don't judge me.
Then George Floyd was murdered.
And the stories of Breonna Taylor and Ahmad Arbury came to light.
And I was speechless.
I went from nothing to write about to not knowing how to put anything into words. I tried, but found myself obsessed with making sure that my words were the right words. That my thoughts were the right thoughts. Everything seemed too raw, undercooked, and uninformed to share. So I didn't. My voice would add nothing to a conversation that should have happened decades ago. Centuries ago.
But as I went back through my journals over the last few weeks, I found a few seedlings of real thoughts.
Just baby thoughts.
I'm at the starting line of a marathon. I'm a writer, who hasn't written.
But if I don't put my shoes on and take a step, I'll never get anywhere.
I need to listen to more voices of more black mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, and children in my life. Tara (a friend) may not be a black mother, but she is raising black boys and she is married to a strong, black man. Because I do not know what I do not know, and I never will if I talk more than I listen. Tonight, I listened to Jesse Williams.
I am disturbed by my lack of disturbance.
On Monday, Trump's stunt about clearing away the protesters so that he could hold a Bible and walk to St. James' Church for a photo op was happening while we were at the prayer and action rally in Grove Park. On Facebook, a dear friend posted that it made her cry all night because it's blasphemy. But to me, it was a blip. Something that passed through my mind for a few moments and then was gone. Crowded out by news that was angrier and harder and more disturbing and just more...
Of course it's blasphemy. I know that. It's also Trump, and I've come to expect crap like that. I can't even get worked up about it. I read a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., the other day: "A riot is the language of the unheard."
That's true. And that's why I can't even get worked up about that either. I just wish the rioters were able to be more targeted with their destruction. Police precincts: yes. Target: no. Courthouses: yes. Football Hall of Fame: No. You're not mad at Target or football or Chick-fil-a.
But hey ... who am I to judge?
I'm not the one getting shot and suffocated and arrested and imprisoned and profiled and followed and sidelined and passed over and condemned and accused and fired.
Told to sit down
don't make a scene
and we might ...
just might ...
let you live.
Lord, help us.
I so wish that we didn't have to be going through this right now ... or ever. But God, I am so thankful that I am not coming out of this unscathed. Untouched. Uneducated. Unaware.
I am thankful that you are prompting and guiding me — gently, but unrelentingly — to listen to my Black brothers and sisters — to their stories of what they have suffered and endured at the hands of my white brothers and sisters. I may not have pulled the trigger or blocked the door or said the word or cast the blame, but in a million small and not so small ways, I have enabled and empowered or given a pass to those who did.
I was silent when I should have spoken.
Quiet when I should have been loud.
Sat when I should have stood.
Stood when I should have taken a knee.
Thank you, God, for removing my blinders ... or at least adjusting them so that my field of vision is wider. I need wide and deep. Narrow and shallow will no longer suffice.
Lord, help us.
Please continue to draw me into uncomfortable conversations. Guide me to read uncomfortable stories. Help me to internalize uncomfortable truths. And help me to sink into the uncomfortable places, knowing that is exactly where I need to be right now.
Lord, help us.
Lord, help us has been my refrain quite a bit lately.
In a way, it reminds me of an Episcopalian prayer where each petition is answered with, "Lord, hear our prayer." It is the rhythm and cadence of my childhood. It is comfort and rest. It is a laying of my worries and cares and concerns and fears at the foot of the altar, and asking God to make something out of the mess we have created. I have created.
My pastor once said, "God loves you just the way you are, but too much to let you stay that way."
And I am thankful that he loves me ... too much.