Under the mango trees.

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It’s been a while. A few days ago I came out of the wild. Well, not exactly the wild, I guess. But a wildish sort of place. 

I volunteered at a Japanese music festival up here in Northern Thailand and it was such an interesting, rich experience. Sleeping in a mango orchard for nearly three weeks, looking at the stars at night, watching the sun rise.

I was with Kenya and our friends Tayna and Aya and spent a lot of time with them, especially for the first nine days, before the festival started. I was on a deco team with lovely Chinese and Japanese artists. We made a lot of signs, all translated into Thai, Japanese, and English. “We need a sign, three languages,” is a phrase I used a lot. I painted live and organized other live painters. 

I watched my husband play music. I sat behind our bhajan band on the main stage and sang in the response to our Jesus bhajans. 

Our car got dustier and dustier.

I learned how to say “good morning,” in Japanese.

I guided a meditation in a campsite, attended one, and kept the kids quiet for a couple.

I studied and wrote papers in a teak forest.

I went to the hot springs almost every day.

It was a busy time, full of wildness, adjustment, and lots of activity. But I came out feeling ready for the next season, and somewhat like I hit a reset button. 

Chinua leaves tomorrow for India. The kids and I will stay back, do school, and make art and writing. Tumble around, deal with smoky season, cook, water the garden, and swim. I’ll write my final research paper of the quarter. We’ll try to be creative and loving and patient, even as the days grow hotter and drier.

Around the bend in the river.

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Yesterday, Leaf and Brendan moved to Chiang Mai. Their son Taran is going to highschool, and the family is making it possible by moving.

It’s only three hours away. And yet.

We’ll see them all the time. And yet.

They are some of the kindest, most generous people I know.

I remember when they came to live here.

I remember the first time I walked out and found flowers on my motorbike. 

I thought, this is what it’s like to live in a town with Leaf.

Leaf and I like to sit by the river to talk. We’ve done it many, many times. Sometimes on the ground, sometimes on a little platform. The platform washed away in the rainy season this year, along with the bridge. We tried not to make too much of it.

Sometimes, when I’m driving my motorbike, I catch a flash of dreadlocks out of the corner of my eye, and realize Brendan has just whizzed by on his bicycle. When Isaac and Ruby were small, Brendan drove around town doing all his errands with them. Tubtim (Ruby) and Meenoi (Isaac- it means Little Bear) charmed the laundry lady, the market sellers, the landlords. 

Ruby and Isaac act like siblings, tumbling over and around each other without paying a lot of attention. I love to watch them, to see how completely at ease they are with each other. 

Taran has been joining our little group of homeschoolers for a little while each day, for years now. This group of funny, snarky, thoughtful teens is a highlight of my life. Taran brings the creativity. He and Kenya climb trees, make swings, come up with interesting ways to defy the laws of gravity. 

This family is woven into our life. We don’t even have to let go. It’s just the day to day things that will stop. School together. Bumping into each other on the road. But we’ve been friends across wider distances than this. They got on a train and visited us for the first time in Goa, when Solo was only a couple days old. We took a train to them when I was pregnant with Isaac, journeying long hours to sit and have chai under the mango tree.

We can’t see around this bend in the river. What will it be like to have two communities instead of one? (Eventually.) What will living at a distance be like? 

Right now it feels like loss. But I hope soon it will feel like expansion. Like taking a long deep inhale. Like more adventure, more possibility, more talks by the river, a larger space for love to grow. Those are the parts that God has to bring. I’m tired of trying to manufacture things. Of trying to control outcomes. I didn’t want them to have to leave. But God has different ideas, and he breathes on things and makes them beautiful. He brings the sparkle.

 We can’t see around this bend, but good things have come out of the unknown before. Many good things.

Breathe on us today.

Mary: A Story

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I wrote a story for our Christmas Eve celebration at Shekina Garden. Here it is for you.

Part 1

Mary was born in troubled times. Years ago, when her grandfather was a boy, Rome had overcome Jerusalem and occupied all of Israel and Judea. There were terrible stories of that time and even now, the land seethed with danger. The Romans had installed Herod as King, and Herod did not care for his people. There were so many things to remember, to stay safe. Mary’s mother told her to keep her head down and never walk alone. Mary had a sick feeling in her stomach if she came upon a group of soldiers standing on a corner in their red and silver uniforms. Even if she walked with her uncle or her father, she felt afraid. It was too easy for something to go wrong. She had seen a man beaten just for walking too close to the soldiers.

Her village felt like the sea, one thing on the surface, and so much beneath the water. Every family felt differently about the occupation. Some people ran willingly into the arms of idol worshipers, her father said. Some resisted and moved into caves in the wilderness, to make grand plans of rescue. And some kept their heads down, waiting, always waiting for the one who would come to set them free to worship celebrate the feasts. Last year Herod had canceled Passover in Jerusalem, a thing of great sorrow. Mary’s father had wept for hours, sitting on the floor with his tallit over his head. 

Her parents often warned her about walking after dark.

“If it is too late to get home before sunset,” they said, “stay where you are. Send a boy to tell us. We don’t want you walking at night. It’s not safe with the soldiers everywhere.”

So it was dangerous, but there were beautiful parts about her life in the village. Meals at the family hearth, goat milk with spices in the evenings. Her family had a flock of goats, and Mary loved the feeling she got when she went out to call the goats home and the whole world was bathed in golden light. There were moments that nearly called her heart out of her body: the shadows over the low hills, the smell of plants crushed under her feet. She got the urge to run, and sometimes she did, chasing the baby goats until it was time to bring them all home. 

She wondered if she would feel the same freedom when she married Joseph. She had been promised to him for a long time. Sometimes, when he came to visit her father, she peeked at him from under her veil. He had a kind face, with curly black hair and skin just a shade lighter than her own brown skin. There was gray in his beard, though. When Mary mentioned the gray beard, her mother frowned. 

“You are very lucky, Mary. Joseph isn’t that old! It is only that he has been taxed as we all have. Times are hard for us. We have to give most of everything we earn away.” Then she would sigh or cry and Mary would sneak out to look at the stars outside the door.

Mary didn’t want to think about the taxes, the occupation, or King Herod. She wanted to think about the stories of Adonai making the world. How did he do it? she wondered. She wasn’t often allowed to sit and listen when the men talked about such things. But she sat and looked at the stars and thought, and thought, and thought about it. Especially on mornings when it seemed that the world was exploding with light and color. How did he do it? And having made such a lot of beauty, did he ever think about her? 


One night she took too long bringing the goats back. Her mother had been crying, again, about how much of their grain Herod’s tax collectors had demanded, and Mary felt that if she could run along the hillsides, she could outrun all of it. 

But the sun fell behind the mountain before she knew it, and the world was suddenly darkened. Heart beating, she gathered the goats and urged them through the pasture and into the yard. When she got them to the animal hut, her heart was in her throat. Everything she had ever heard about darkness and danger came back to her. She pushed the goats through and went inside to pour their water. 

She nearly screamed when she saw the… man standing there. Was it a man? He was so tall that his head brushed the rafters, and his skin was dark like a night without a moon, a darker, bluer black than she had ever before seen, but his skin seemed lit with silver light where her lantern shone on his hands and face.

“Elohim sees you, young sister,” he said. “The Lord has seen you and knows how beautiful your heart is. He has chosen you.”

She stared at him. “He knows who I am?” she whispered.

“Don’t be scared,” he answered. “You can come closer if you want.”

“Where are you from? Do you have a name?” she asked. 

“From the sky,” he told her. “My name is Gabriel. And I’m here to tell you that Adonai sees you and is giving you a gift beyond your imagination. You are going to have a baby and you will call him Jesus. He will be the Son of the Most High and will be a king like David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 

“I’m sorry,” Mary said. “I’m not sure that I heard properly. When? When is this supposed to be? I’m not even married yet.”

The man smiled. “This won’t happen in any kind of ordinary way. The Spirit of God will come to you and the power of the Most High will overwhelm you. The baby will be the Son of God.”

A goat bleated loudly. Mary blinked. She looked down at herself, her brown hands and bare feet, her completely ordinary body, her tunic flapping around in some strange wind. She had asked if God saw her. He had answered. The wind tugged at her hair and she felt a strange, sudden joy. The angel smiled at her again. 

“I have only ever wanted to serve the Most High,” Mary whispered. “I am willing. Let it be to me as you say.”

The tall, tall man stooped to leave the barn, touching her on the shoulder as he did so, and she felt courage cover her like a warm blanket.

Part 2

Joseph hadn’t called off the wedding. This was what Mary reminded herself, over and over again, as they journeyed the long miles to Bethlehem. For safety, they traveled in a big group, and Mary was thankful that Joseph owned a donkey. Even though the donkey walked with a jolt that made her feel as though her hips would never be the same. He was affectionate with her but stubborn. She named him Nimrod, and was thankful that she didn’t have to walk, since it was during her ninth month of pregnancy that Caesar had got it into his head to count his hordes of subjects. “To make sure he gets enough taxes,” her mother had said, wringing her hands.

It was after dark when they finally arrived in Bethlehem. Their companions had trickled off one by one as they went to their home towns, until it was finally just Joseph, Mary and Nimrod. Mary could tell by the set of Joseph’s shoulders that he was worried about traveling after dark. 

“What was the dream like?” she had asked him, on the day he came back to her father to say that he would marry her after all.

Both of them had stared at her. Her father had sorrow behind his eyes that had been there since the day Mary told them of her pregnancy. She understood. It wasn’t supposed to be possible for women to get pregnant on their own. Her father didn’t know whether to believe her when she told him about Gabriel.

“There was a man.”

“Black as a night with no moon?” 

“And a sword in his hand…” Joseph said, nodding. “He called me the son of David, and told me that the baby in your belly is from the Holy Spirit. Like you said, Mary. And that he will be called Immanuel. God with us.

Once they were within the walls of the city,  Joseph relaxed. He grew anxious again, though, when innkeeper after innkeeper looked at them and said, “We’re full.” Mary couldn’t tell if they were lying. She stood leaning on Nimrod, waiting while Joseph went from door to door. 

“Is it you?” she asked the donkey, stroking his nose. “Or me?” 

They certainly looked rough after their journey, and she was obviously a northerner, with the distinctive patterns on her rough woven cloak. She winced as she felt a sharp pang at the bottom of her belly. Nimrod whickered beside her. Another pain came, this one sharper. No! She thought. Not now. Joseph turned away from the last innkeeper, anger and humiliation warring on his face. 

“Sir!” she said, before the innkeeper closed the door. “Can we stay there?” She pointed.

“Mary!” Joseph said. “In the animal hut?”

“We must, husband,” she said, gasping now. “We need a place to rest.”

He stared at her for a moment, and turned to look at the innkeeper. The innkeeper gave a brief nod, and none too soon.

The animal hut was dark and dirty, but it didn’t matter. Mary gave birth there, with only Joseph to help her. The innkeeper offered some towels and warm water, and his wife helped to clean Mary up.

The birth was worse and better than she had expected. Worse because it was more painful than people had described to her. Better because it was fast. Worse because when the baby left her body, she felt separated from a kernel of peace that had rested under her heart for all these months. She picked him up and nursed him, murmuring over him, kissing his sweet head and velvety brown skin. He opened his eyes and looked at her, and a tiny star flared up again inside her. The world was well, when he was in it. 

Immanuel, she murmured. 

Part 3

The shepherds were a surprise. She was finally falling asleep when they came roaring up. They drifted into the animal hut, looking stunned, scared, and sleepless. They had a story about the sky filled with fire and singing creatures, but all she really wanted to know was what the first angel looked like. “He filled the whole sky,” one said. “His skin was like the darkest depths of the sea. But he shone like sparks of fire.”

Mary smiled and picked the infant out of the feed trough, pulling him close to her and laying back in the little nest Joseph had made for her. Gabriel, again, she thought. The tiny star inside her glowed. He told them, too, she thought. She looked at her new baby. He told a group of shepherds about you. Who are you? Why does Adonai love me so much, that he gave me you? 

The days turned into a kind of long dream. She slept, ate, and took care of her baby. Sometimes when she gazed at him sleeping, she felt a familiar longing. It was the same feeling she had when she looked off at the hills. As though she wanted to run, and run. But she no longer asked whether Adonai ever thought about her. She knew he did.

People whispered about her, in the market, on the road. They knew she and Joseph hadn’t been married long enough for Jesus to be born to them. But between lack of sleep and the wonder she lived in, Mary couldn’t feel the sting of the whispers.

“My soul reaches to Adonai,” she whispered to Jesus as he slept. “My spirit is singing to Hashem the saving one. He saw me, even though I am very small. Even though I am the smallest bird, just a little sparrow. He saw me, and he gave me you, and no one will ever forget it.”

But times were troubled. The king was growing increasingly difficult. There were stories of violence, and the little family decided to stay in Bethlehem to be safe. Mary tried to ignore the rumors, until she was thrust right into the center of everything. 

One night, there was a knock at the door. When Joseph opened it, he let out a little sound of surprise. There were three men there, with a whole train of servants in the yard. Mary covered her head quickly. She had never seen anyone like these men from far off lands. They wore fine embroidered cloaks and elaborate head-dresses. Their faces were strange. She sat holding her baby, and when the men saw her there with him, they fell on their knees and bent their faces to the earth. She was frozen in shock. No one should bow except to Adonai alone. 

She looked at her baby. He gazed back at the men, and the tiny star within her flared into a bright flame. Tears ran down her cheeks as the men offered treasures to Jesus. They told her of a star that had guided them, and dream they had, a giant angel like a radiant night, who told them not to tell Herod that they had found Jesus. And then not much later, Gabriel visited Joseph again in a dream.

“He spoke to me again,” Joseph told Mary the next day.

She didn’t have to ask him who.

“What did he say?” she asked. 

“We have to run, to flee to Egypt. Herod wants to destroy Jesus.” 

Mary couldn’t understand why Herod wanted her son, but she needed no other warning.  Gabriel had always been right. He had been helping and watching from the beginning. Joseph and Mary packed what they needed and left, with barely enough time to say goodbye to their neighbors. Nimrod carried Mary and the baby once again, and as they rode, Mary’s heart felt as though it would swell to bursting with joy, which made absolutely no sense. They were refugees, penniless, with only a donkey to carry them. They could only hope the Egyptians wouldn’t turn them away. But the star in her heart burned bright and strong. Adonai cared for them, sending his angel to save them. She felt like he had run with her, across the hillsides, carrying the beauty of the mountains right into her heart. He had given her Immanuel, her own infant son to care for, and she would carry deep joy as long as Jesus was with her.

“He has done great things for me, and holy is his name,” she whispered to Jesus as they crossed fields in the dark. “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones. He has lifted the poor and needy, and fed the hungry. No one can be proud before him. He will pour mercy down on his children forever and ever.” 

***

Much love to you all,

Rae

One night in December.

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Last night was dinner and Bible circle at my house. I made bread, starting it in the morning. Prepared veggie broth the day before. I make it in big batches and freeze it, for our gut and immune health. Soup, bread, salad. It feels like a December meal, though it hasn’t gone much lower than 18 degrees Celcius here this year. (For us it feels cold.)

My long time friend Heidi arrived, and we talked as I cooked, catching up with life from the past thirteen years or so. She sat on the curb of my outdoor kitchen, while I danced around the kitchen making the meal. I forgot to get her a chair, but I remembered a cup of tea. Then other friends trickled in, and they brought the dishes and food to the table while I finished dressing the salad. It was a collection of friends who made a beautiful evening. A new friend that we just met on Monday. An Israeli friend who has been here for a few months, and brings delight to my soul whenever he’s around. My dear friend Scion, who is like family. Christy and the girls. Rowan Tree of my heart. And two other new friends who are strong and smart and caring women.

Kai is home for Christmas, so I pulled him in for a minute and showed him off. “This is my oldest son. He is wonderful and I think he has grown another inch.” Then I let him go because he can’t really do crowds. Leafy dodged in and out, wearing headphones. Kenya stuck around for the whole evening, sitting with her best friend, Tayna. They sit stuck together on the couch, no need for space. Upstairs, the younger kids watched a show, and it seemed from the sounds from overhead, that occasionally they did circus acts. Or maybe just fell off the bed.

The talking piece was a stone, big enough to fill the palm, small enough that you could close your hand around it.

The verses were the ones at the end of John 3, where John the Baptist says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” We read it in the NIV, the Message, and Scion read it for us in the Hawaiian Pidgin translation. Then we passed the stone and talked.

We talked about faith, certainty, and knowing. That faith comes when there is a lack of certainty, but there is also some knowing. Avraham said, “Yes, if someone came and offered something that he said was from God but was actually evil, you would know it, and you would say, “This is evil. Not for me.”

“Not for me” became a theme of the night then, one that made us laugh many times. I don’t want to forget this warm-lit night, the soup and bread and kind conversation, the tears or the laughter.

Learning to listen.

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Part 1.

I’ve been trying to write this post since I first read the about the tragic killing of Jemel Robersen. I think it hit me hard because of my naive believe that as soon as people learned about police brutality toward black Americans, it would stop. But it hasn’t stopped, and at the same time as seeing our awareness build, there is also a sort of defeat. How will it end?

I went searching for some statistics on mass shootings. Not my normal afternoon exercise, but it seemed important. Specifically I wanted to know how many mass shooters end up in custody rather than dying during the attack. 

Here’s what I have read in these statistics.**

First, police do extraordinary work in subduing and arresting mass shooters—people with weapons who have already used those weapons to kill and injure multiple people. And still somehow, in 90% of cases where the shooter does not kill himself, police manage to take the shooter into custody. Without killing him. In cases where the suspect has a gun, has proven he will use it, and has already taken lives. These are truly difficult situations of high danger, and they have the skills to take people in alive.

But then we have someone like 26-year-old Jemel Robersen, who was killed on duty as a security guard, doing his job as he apprehended a (white) shooter who opened fire in a bar in Chicago. Jemel did his work well, disarming and holding the shooter until police could arrive. He did what he was supposed to do. 

Doing what he was supposed to do didn’t help him be any safer. When police arrived, they saw a black man with a gun and shot him, ignoring the shouts of people around who said, “he’s one of us!” or “he saved us!” He died. The original gunman was taken into custody.

Like many other horrified people, I shared the article on Jemel Roberson on Facebook, and my brother-in-law commented, “The sad part is the culture has always been in the shadows. Now it's in the light. They always have been killing us. It's just on camera now. And they still won't stop.”

They have always been killing us. Here is the hard truth. Even though many police have the skill to de-escalate, black lives are simply worth less than white lives in America. 

White people have always been killing black people. 2 million deaths in the middle passage (slave ships from Africa to enslaving countries). 2 million more African deaths attributed to slavery, a system of profit for white people. It’s how America started. It is poison, and the poison has not been eradicated. 

From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States.  Of these people that were lynched 3,446, 72.7% were black. Other people who were lynched included people who smuggled runaway slaves or were caught helping black people. It was a form of execution without trial. Police shootings are also a form of execution without trial. Young black men are 9 times more likely than any other kind of people to be killed by officers.

They have always been killing us. We have to get rid of this poison. We must. It is poisoning all of us.

Part 2.

Here’s how it goes with black men. A young black man looks “dangerous.” He’s standing around. Sitting at a cafe, doing his job, walking down the street, and someone calls the police. The police come, and don’t use their extraordinary skills of disarming dangerous people with guns. They shoot first.

Here’s how it starts: We (white people) start it by labeling a normal situation dangerous. We call in the authorities for no reason. (He looks suspicious. I don’t think he lives in this neighborhood.) Those men laughing and talking on the corner? Hanging out? Why do we call the police on them? At best it’s harassment. At worst it costs people their lives. 

Our family has not had a visit back to the US in the last five years without some sort of interaction with the police. 

One scary moment happened when we visited a friend. We had gone to a nearby park because the friend’s father and brother-in-law were arguing and he felt it would be better if we left them alone. (Our friend and his father are Asian-American. His brother-in-law is white.) After a while, the brother-in-law ran out of the house shouting, “Call 911, he has a gun!” 

Someone did call 911. We walked to the other side of the park to get far away from the house. But when the officers arrived, they spotted Chinua, and charged out of the car toward him, aiming their guns at him, while he held his hands up, despite the fact that we were nowhere near the house. His friend beside him called and gestured to show the house that the gunman actually was in. The kids and I were only a few feet away. There was a two-second pause while the police considered this, and then they changed course and went to the house where the man was. (It turned out to be a pellet gun.)

We were in the wrong place at the wrong time- the incident had nothing to do with us. But why did they run toward Chinua, despite the many, many people standing around in that park? He was the only black man.


Chinua has been pulled over for nothing more than driving an expensive car. (It was the car he was borrowing from a friend while he spent a month with Ian in the hospital, at the end of Ian’s life.)

He has had special services swarm him for exiting his vehicle during a motorcade. 

When he was a boy, he was surrounded by several police cars and told to get down on the ground because he was running down a sidewalk with his brother. 

Part 3. 


I want to learn to listen well.

I have been on my own journey with race. From my youth in Canada, to meeting and falling in love with Chinua, learning about historical racism on a different level, hearing his stories of his mother’s investigations into police brutality in Los Angeles in the 80’s and 90’s, to current day issues. I know that I have listened as though I was listening to a story that has nothing to do with me. I know that I have refused to acknowledge the reality of racism at times, as though my own sheer optimism (that came from growing up believing that people would listen to me and fight for justice for me) could cover everyone around me. Or have not wanted to acknowledge that I have benefited from a system where white people have the most power. And I am slowly starting to see that not having to think about race is a privilege for white people, how race effects nearly everything in our world and political systems for anyone of color, especially black people in America. 

The other day I sat and listened as a couple of white friends kept brushing off what Chinua said about racism. 

Chinua was talking about cultural misunderstanding as a piece of the problem, an fixable piece. “People see black people talking loudly and think that they are angry, when it’s just the way they talk.” 


“There are differences between everyone,” one said shrugging. “There are differences in cultures between the different regions of my country.”


“But we can learn about cultural differences, rather than calling the police,” Chinua responded.


“What, then we have to learn every culture in the world?” (That would be ridiculous, is the implication.)


White friends, we sometimes respond to the reality serious and tragic injustice toward black people in unkind and disempowering ways. Maybe we’ve tried to say that the problem can’t be as bad as they are making it. Maybe we try to act as though the same kind of thing has happened to us. Sometimes we try to show how much better we are than those other white people. “I have a black friend…”

I have done all of those things, not even realizing just how dangerous it is. Because actually what we need to do is stop talking over black people, stop saying it is all the same, stop saying All Lives Matter (everyone already knows this), stop distracting from the conversation about the dangers that black men and women (and children) face. 


Chinua, my kindhearted, right-living husband, has faced these dangers his whole life. As have his family. As have his people. He has skills in how to diffuse a situation, how to not appear threatening, how to assure white people of their worth even while trying to talk about the real race issues of a people who have historically been enslaved and killed, en masse, by white people. 


Clinging to our sense of the world as a right and good place, where people get ahead because of their worth, or fail because they haven’t tried hard enough, makes us bad at listening. But we have to listen.

Part 4.


So let’s listen. Here are some gentle suggestions from someone who has got it wrong many many times. The next time you’re in a conversation about race, and a black person speaks about how hard things are for them, don’t invalidate, brush off, or diminish what they are saying. Just listen, and then say, “I’m sorry. I haven’t heard about that.” Assume there is a lot you don’t know. Learn to be okay with being uncomfortable. (It’s the least we can do for our friends.) Let’s sit uncomfortably with our race (and its history of oppression) without twitching it off by saying “All lives matter,” or “black people enslaved each other too,” or “there’s such a thing as reverse racism.” Let’s not divert the topic to something more comfortable. Let’s admit to not being able to understand what it feels like to know that you are the most targeted type of person in America. We don’t have to understand. We just have to listen and we have to care.


Race is not all we are. Chinua reminds me that there are many ways to slice the pie. I don’t particularly like being in a slice that is away from my entire immediate family and all my in laws, but I am. I can’t pretend away my privilege because I don’t want to be different. It’s dangerous for my family if I keep insisting the difference doesn’t exist. It’s dangerous for my sons, who are in the 99th percentile of height and weight for their age, and about to become large mixed-race (black) men. In one configuration of our family, I am different. I am not in danger in a way that they are. I am the one who gets out and checks for a camping spot at a KOA in Kansas, because I am less likely to be turned away.

I also have great power to be a good listener, friend and ally. We get to decide who we want to be. Do we want to get rid of this poison? One way to keep it around is to keep it hidden, pretend it isn’t there. 

Let’s be okay with being uncomfortable. The last thing I’ll say to my fellow white followers of Jesus is that this is the kind of thing our faith prepares us for. Repentance, discomfort and pain, weeping with those who weep, remaining quiet in order for others to have a chance to speak at the table—these are all earmarks of our faith, and every one of them ends in what we always have, the mercy and grace of God. Our fairytale kingdoms may fall. Our image of ourselves and our countries or heritage as “completely” good may fall. But nothing can separate us from the love of God. It is safe for false constructions to fall. God will remain, and his love and mercy are for all of us.

Here are some resources: 

The current season of Serial. They did some amazing work of spending time and reporting in one courtroom in Cleveland, and what emerges shows how biased things can be in the judicial system.

 The New Jim Crow and The Color of Law explain a lot about the systemization of oppression and segregation in America. (Disclaimer, I haven’t read them. They’re on my list.)

13th, a Netflix documentary about unpaid inmate labor in America.

**Of the 107 shooting sprees that Mother Jones records between 1982 and 2018, 61 were carried out by white people. 17 by black people. (The rest were a mixture of Latino, Asian, Native American, and Unclear.) 

Of those 61 white people, 32 died by suicide. Of those who didn’t shoot themselves, 21 were taken into custody, 8 killed by police. 

Of the 11 black shooters who didn’t kill themselves, 5 were taken in, 6 killed by police. 

(Mother Jones marks shootings that are spree-like, have 3 or more fatalities and often many more injuries.)