What a great metaphor—this puzzle that I’m really sorry I insisted we buy. Sometimes you think you know what you want, but it doesn’t turn out to work out as well as you’d expected. Nothing like working on this puzzle to humble me.

All I can do is string puzzle pieces together—I can’t even figure out where to put them. But, luckily, I am not working on this puzzle alone. It’s good to have a partner who can pick up where I leave off.

Lots of lessons in this puzzle. How very appropriate for Lent.

How do I calm my raging heart—on any given day, but especially in times such as these when my activities and comings and goings have been pared down in this time period when we await abatement from the virus’ relentless effect on daily life?

Since March 16, 2020—when I came home to work—and the week when everything on my normally busy calendar was erased, my main solace has been time spent in exercise. First, solitary running, and then, bit by bit, electronic classes—both with my regular local fitness teacher and classmates and with sources beyond my neighborhood. And, from time to time, I have ventured out to run close—but not too close—with others.

Still, what was immediately stripped from my life last March was singing in community in my choir and church. The night of March 11, I was engaged in the risky business of going to a Lenten church service (complete with communion!) and singing in choir practice. By the Sunday that followed, church had been reduced to my laptop screen. While my spiritual needs are often met by connecting to the messages from the ministers and other leaders, it’s not quite the same singing harmony by myself along with the sounds projected from the few people allowed in the sanctuary.

My voice has become husky with disuse. Of course, I can sing by myself at home, but with my naturally limited range, I don’t have much of a voice for singing melody. My strength lies in singing harmony. I can—and occasionally do—sing harmony along with music I play for myself. But I miss singing in church—with other people. Almost every Sunday since I was 10 (give or take several during college and in my early 20s) until March 15 of 2020, I have been singing harmony from the hymn book—with others.

So, I asked myself, what can I do to sing, even if I can’t sing in the way I want to sing? Well, for Lent, I’ve broken out my copy of Bach’s St. John’s Passion, and I plan to sing along with Cyber Bass or YouTube. Tonight, I gave that scratchy old voice of mine permission to sing out—badly or not. To tell the truth, I had an easier time singing the notes than I did singing the German words. Sure, I might have scared the puppy a little bit (in all fairness—he’s scared of most everything the first time he experiences it!), but not the older dog, who heard me practice those songs often throughout Lent 2015.

And, you know what? My darkened heart—along with my lowered voice—felt a little bit lighter for singing harmony—even with the tinny background sounds coming from my laptop.

Isn’t it time I stopped keeping myself from singing?

As March 2021 approaches, we’ve been hitting landmarks that continue to remind us of what we didn’t know at this time last year. And how unaware we were that we were living through the end of an era. Oh, we were getting some pretty good hints by Ash Wednesday of 2020, but it seems that most of us just didn’t get what was going on or what was coming.

I’m not even sure how to pray this Ash Wednesday. What is appropriate when over 2.4 million people worldwide have died from COVID-19, including over 488,000 of my fellow Americans? As a people, we are diminished by the loss of so many. Grief tears at our hearts. If there were any doubts that from ashes we came and to ashes we will return, 2020 put a whole new emphasis on that statement of mortality.

Yet in this time of great loss and fear surrounding physical health, I am especially reminded of how human I am otherwise. Even as I am so grateful that I live and breathe, I am aware that my heart has hardened so much in this past year. Yes, I am sad at all we have lost—especially those people I’ve lost (not due to COVID). But when I sat down to write tonight, I was confronted with how angry I am. All. The. Time.

And not just angry, but also unforgiving toward those who do not approach the pandemic the way I do. More so lately as one in my own circle has been engaged in battle with this deadly virus.

This Lent I will sit with this anger and my God—and try to hear a way back to loving others.

What do those three terms have to do with me?

Well, right now, I—like everyone else alive at this time—am living through a pandemic that affects almost all aspects of our collective experiences—and puts each of us in the position of having to decide to how to respond to the health threats brought about by COVID-19. Each day it becomes more apparent to me that how we “do COVID” is a personal decision.

Well, who am I? I am a person with a diagnosis of ADD who often has to struggle to manage matters that come more naturally for neurotypical people. Before I had a name for what was behind some of my difficulties, I was always looking for techniques to keep me on track. Consequently, in my MBA studies, I was drawn to what I learned in operations management courses.

Operations management is an area of business focused on how to get things done—in efficient and effective ways, with minimal loss of resources. Without systems, my brain leans toward chaotic approaches to everyday and long-term actions and decisions. What’s intuitive for many, needs a bit more structure for me to initiate and complete. As such, I am a big fan of having a plan—and that includes having a plan for some of the things that might go wrong.

How you “do” any aspect of life is pretty much an area for operations management. For example, my class project on changing diapers (for our twins) taught me this great insight—if you don’t have all the supplies ready before you start your task, you’re going to waste a lot of time. Well, duh—but my instinct first is to take action and second to think. I need systems for my actions to be effective. And when I find a system that works for me, I stick to it rigidly. Dishwasher loading, closet organization, calendar management, and medication/supplement organization are a few tasks where I’ve had some success.

Operations management is also part of the protections in place for a business to uphold employee safety, assure equipment integrity, and manage the money invested in a business. For a factory, that might involve employee training, scheduled maintenance, shutdown protocol, and upgrades. For humans, we invest in the health of our bodies. Without my systems, I might take my medications only when I remember, exercise when I feel like it, or forget to schedule appointments with my doctors. My mind is that chaotic—but I am not willing to live in chaos for the areas of my life where precision really matters.

And in this era, I also choose to believe what the majority of scientific and medical professionals are saying. I don’t leave my risks to my mind’s whims—which are many. My husband and I have created a mask station that makes it easy for us to find and take our masks when we leave. Our family takes seriously the recommendations on social distancing and wearing masks—and we don’t want to spend a lot of time around people who won’t follow those practices.

Can we protect ourselves from every droplet or aerosol? No, we cannot. But that doesn’t mean having a system is useless—it just means that having a system is one of the tools we have for reducing some of the risks in this season of unknowns.

I’m tired of many leaders and other adults abdicating responsibility for the health risks they present to others. Our country is in a bigger crisis than it needs to be at this moment in time. I want to get along with as many people as possible, but if getting along with you means that I have to agree to abandon what I consider to be necessary practices, then we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I may be naturally chaotic, but when it really matters, I set in place systems—and I adhere to them. I “do COVID” the way I do to protect myself and my loved ones—and to protect you.

Fear-shaming seems to be a thing these days. As if showing respect for a novel coronavirus and figuring out how to minimize its risks are somehow the actions of cowards (and/or the faithless) versus a fact-seeking mission to determine what we can and cannot control about this threat that has seemingly thrown our world off its axis.

For years, my family has called me Safety Mom, in part because I had writing jobs about safety and baby products. But I guess you could probably argue that I was able to get hired for those jobs because I’ve always been one to think about safety concerns. Do I live my life in fear? No. Yet I do live my life by researching safety risks and analyzing various protections and preparations. When it comes to safety, there are many factors not under our control—my approach is to put my efforts toward simple ways to reduce risks. In the end, that’s all anyone can do. After all, we’re not in charge!

For background, I admit that I come from a somewhat overprotected childhood.

First of all, my dad was raised an only child, but, really, he was the child who followed the death of his parents’ only other child. My grandparents were so afraid of losing him that he was raised as a fragile piece of china—even though he grew up on a Depression-era farm. His nickname in school became “Mittens”—because he wasn’t allowed to get dirty or roughhouse. He grew up to earn a professional degree and work as a pharmacist, only using his hands to count pills and type labels. My father seemed a stranger to his own body—living in a cerebral world where physical risks were minimized. For him, it was his lifestyle focused on comforts that threatened his physical health more than outside risks or movements.

And, for me—I was the baby who did not die when my body raged with infection at four months of age. But the experience left me underweight and scrambling to catch up. My dad’s mom would grab my hands and say things like, “She has hands like a bird. Do you think she will make it?” And whenever I fell down in her presence, she would gasp in fear for me—a reaction that never went away throughout all the normal bumps and bruises of my childhood. Not until I could get my tonsils out, a procedure delayed by my lack of weight gain, could I finally grow into a sturdy child—one who tried to pump hard enough to wrap the swing around the bar, who rode my bike up gravel country roads, climbed trees, screwed up her courage to plunge off the high board, and who, in my teens, jumped at a chance to learn to ski.

Compared to my husband (he of a very physical childhood with his two brothers and more than a few broken bones between them, and a current serious mountain-biking addiction) and my own kids, who I strove not to inject with the legacy of fear my family had attempted to swaddle me in, I am a delicate little flower.

However, I do not often cower in fear. I prepare myself by reading the latest studies (from a layman’s perspective), while watching for bias or updated information. My educational background is in reading and writing, and my current editing work falls in the area of science education—an area where I was NOT naturally drawn to at a young age. No doubt my growth into Safety Mom drove me toward trying to figure out how different factors affect health. In general, if my research tells me something I don’t want to hear, I have to decide how badly I want to avoid the risks.

Unfortunately, what I read at this point in our early days of understanding the current viral threat is that how I respond to safety precautions matters to the health of many beyond my own circle. I don’t really spend a lot of time worrying about myself—or even about those whom I love. Instead, I spend time making certain that—as much as possible—I follow the current recommended safety precautions.

What looks like fear to many is actually love. I am doing unto others what I want them to do for me (see Matthew 7:12). I do this because of what Jesus said—not because I don’t have faith. What if keeping our lamps trimmed and burning (see Matthew 25:1-13) is actually about being prepared to care for others in this interim of waiting for better solutions to this illness? Could the inconvenience of loving our neighbors by maintaining distances and wearing facial coverings actually demonstrate that we are willing to accept God’s timing and ways—in all things, including how and when the bridegroom will arrive?

Fear not, but prepare wisely. Because we do not know the hour or time, one way to keep watch is by showing your love.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert
Father/Daughter Father’s Day bike ride 2020.

Today on Father’s Day, I am used to being without my father. Still, how is it 19 years have passed since I spent a Father’s Day with my dad? Facebook is full of tributes to men like my father who are no longer around—some long gone and some whose recent losses leave sharp, new aches. But I am glad that so many of the people I know still have dads who are alive, including my husband and his brothers. I am grateful that Duane is still here and living in his own home—and I love seeing pictures of living fathers I knew in my youth and living fathers who I don’t know but who matter to people I know.

And, most importantly to me, I rejoice that my kids’ father, Sherman, is out celebrating at this time by riding his bike with our daughter. That he is doing so was not a given, because, despite his age and fitness level, he had a heart attack 2 ½ years ago. Thankfully, due to the addition of a stent as well as medication and diet changes, Sherman continues to ride on this earth, exercising as he always did—but with his heart pumping more effectively.

This man of my heart rides his bike—mostly by climbing up steep hills on his mountain bike—from three to five times a week. He is dedicated to staying strong. And, because he cares that others continue to have the opportunity to move as they are able, he wears a face covering.

I’m going to guess that many people these days are worried about their dads, grandpas, husbands, and other loved ones. But it appears that some other people don’t seem to worry about dads, grandpas, husbands, and loved ones who fall outside their circles.

To the man who took time to mock my husband and me for wearing masks as we walked our dogs outside, what about protecting my 91-year-old father-in-law, let alone my husband who still has heart disease—despite his activity level—or my 20-something son, who has asthma? You might call wearing a face covering the act of a sheep, but we call it wearing our hearts on our faces.

Because, seriously, how can people go around saying that all lives matter when they find so much offense in the suggestion of wearing a mask to protect others? If you really believe all lives matter, then show it by following general guidelines to protect all in these days of COVID-19. Understand that we all have special people who matter to us—and that what we’re saying by wearing face masks isn’t that we’re weak (although some of us might be, and wouldn’t protecting us still be worthy of showing that all lives matter?), but that we know that everyone has people in their lives that matter to them and people who they want to help stay well.

On this Father’s Day, let’s honor the wellness of all our special men—whether they are elderly, have medical conditions, or appear to be fit enough to battle whatever may come their way.

I don’t get to have a father to worry over anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t worry for the men I know in my life—or the men I don’t know—who matter to others. And, yes, that means men who society has traditionally treated as if they don’t matter. And—sigh—it also means the kind of men who would refuse to attempt to protect others or who, even worse, go out of their way to physically harm or mock those who look, think, or act differently than they do.

I have to admit, though, that I’m having a harder time these days attempting to care about people who aren’t afraid to shout that they won’t try to care for all. All means all. Since I can only truly work on my heart, it’s to my own heart where I have to return. So, I’ll repeat it for myself—and anyone else who needs to hear it.

Love one another. Our Father in Heaven gave His Son that message to give to us. Are we listening?

Love all the fathers. And everyone else. Keep wearing your hearts on your faces.

P.S. Miss you, Dad! Glad you are already safe.

Giraffe imposed on text about Newton's 2nd Law (momentum). Vintage TV with interference on screen instead of head.
Sticking my neck out. (Sketch by Christiana Lambert, 2015. For more, see: http://reviva-arts.com/)

The truer I am to myself these days, the more I realize how far I’ve strayed from a good majority of the people I know. And, why should I—the junior high social outcast—be so surprised over 40 years later?

There are so many factors that have contributed to my arrival at this sense of isolation—and some of those started with who I was born as. I didn’t agree with all I was raised to believe or that my peers desired.


But . . . it seems to me that maybe one of the biggest steps I took toward not fitting in was turning off the TV. My cultural connections began to diminish when I wasn’t watching shows that many people brought into conversations. By now, I can look back and see how off-the-grid it was not to get cable—and to never watch reality TV (except for in the rare situation where I was around some who was watching it). I stopped watching the local news after Columbine (1999) and I never watched cable news in any format (again, unless when I briefly saw it away from my home). I’ve also chosen never to listen to talk (yell?) radio.


I don’t live in a vacuum, though. It’s just that I like to read my news. That means I get to choose how much of a story to hear—or whether I think whoever wrote the piece is a trustworthy “narrator.” In my day job, I read for a living and spend time assessing the validity of statements and sources.

While I’ve always read news, I didn’t used to get a sense that I personally needed to keep an eye on my country’s actions. I believed in the checks and balances built into the operating of this country (yes, I realize there’s quite a bit of privilege and naivety built into that belief). My philosophy was that you and I might disagree on some major issues, but there was no need for us to get into those kinds of discussions as long as we had other connections in common.

Therefore, when I joined the social media world, I took great pride in keeping my presence neutral. Even my blog was a “slice of life” forum, where I chose to avoid challenging people. I had such a wide variety of Facebook friends that FB couldn’t even figure out what kinds of political ads to give me for the 2012 presidential elections.

By the 2016 election year, I had moved to hiding a lot of content and sources, and I started hiding more people. Facebook finally could “know” me. I was done acting like Switzerland (a country that really gained a lot of benefits from all sides by remaining neutral, didn’t it?).

My media-related sense of isolation came to a head during that awful year when I realized how different what I valued seemed to be from that of those who would support such a cruel and bombastic reality personality as the man who became our president. All those years ago–when I intentionally chose not to watch TV shows where so much of the entertainment value seemed to come from cheering for participants to be voted off an island–didn’t prepare me for how different I was from so many of my peers. While I wasn’t watching, so many were. I never envisioned how our society would change to one where many people would not only accept the backstabbing inherent in getting rid of all competitors, but would also adulate a leader who excelled in a kind of scripted brutal power built on bullying and cheap showmanship while scorning the pursuit of true knowledge and accomplishments.

These days, it’s beyond amazing to me to realize which FB friends have become my tribe. And which FB friends support ideas and beliefs that I cannot.

Now, here we are in 2020, a year all to its own in acclaim. The rhetoric—drummed up to a fever pitch by the bully-in-chief and his misuse of language long before COVID-19 arrived on our shores—continues to inflame how we discuss differences. If our emotions have the ability to manifest in our physical bodies, then for me, the rashes on my ears are saying, “Enough!” Other than a brief healing response to medication prescribed remotely by my doctor, the skin on my ears is burning up. I cannot tolerate all the awful things I hear—both by those in leadership—and by people I formerly respected who support what is being said (and done) in our country’s name.

There are topics I don’t debate—and I am certain for many of you there are other topics you don’t debate. Both sides of an argument are not always equal. We don’t have to pretend to be friends anymore if doing so means constantly accepting words that feel like accelerants on our core beliefs. We come together on social media by choice—ostensibly for connection and entertainment. I listen to opinions that are different from mine but when I consistently feel morally outraged by a position, maybe I’m not being narrow-minded—maybe I am responding in a manner that is absolutely consistent with who I am.

And who I am is pretty much that person who often questioned what I was told. Being in this position is no more comfortable than it was when I was a kid—but I can’t hide it anymore. In 2020, it’s obvious that it’s no longer just about me. I don’t know what it’s going to take to stop our country from burning up, but I have an obligation to speak up.

But I’m not obligated to listen to everything others say in the name of both sides. Choosing isolation doesn’t mean I don’t hear things that I don’t agree with—it just means I get to put boundaries on how much I let in. The only way I can continue to fight for what I believe is right is for me is to stop listening to so many of you who have shown that what you value is pretty much the exact opposite of what I value.

raised fistMy kids attended a small “school of choice” for middle school. One of the main focuses of their middle school was teaching the kids leadership, including learning the difference between acting in a proactive versus reactive manner. Their school operated without services (which could be provided though the other more traditional schools in the district, if necessary). They got a percentage of a principal, if you will, meaning the teachers pretty much ran the school. Like any institution, the school was subject to the personalities of those in charge and to how those people applied the policies.

The school’s kids had access to large practice fields for their recess time—or whatever you call recess for middle schoolers. The teachers often stood at the top of the hill while the kids milled around below them.

One day, during spring of 8th grade for my son, he was being harassed by one particular kid. There were two groups made up of girls and boys around those two boys. The kid pushed down my son. My son got up. The kid pushed him down again. He got up again. After the third time the kid pushed him down, my son got up and swacked the guy with his baseball hat. Ah ha—the teachers spied that move and called out both boys.

Despite all the eye witness accounts, each boy received an equal suspension from school. The “percentage” principal was called over to talk with both boys. When he met with my son, this man who barely knew him said, “Your hair is greasy and you smell bad. Don’t you ever wash?” I have no idea what he said to the other boy—the one, who by every student’s account, even those from the other group, was the aggressor.

My husband and I were called in to talk with the teachers. And we asked them, “So if our son is walking down the hall and someone reaches out and hits him—and he responds in any physical way—he will be suspended? And they said, “Yes. We have zero tolerance for violence.” Well, I guess that’s zero tolerance for the violence they personally see. I mean, they seemed to imply they just couldn’t believe our son responded in a reactive manner to how he was being treated. And no praise for the times he resisted the urge to respond.

As if most 13-year-old boys have the maturity to walk away, especially if they tried to do so and it didn’t make a difference.

So, the teachers didn’t appear to have the responsibility to de-escalate a situation, weigh any circumstances, or recognize that they pretty much had tolerated violence—until our son responded to violence committed against him. As we heard it, they couldn’t help it—their hands were tied. A rule is a rule. Until it’s applied differently for different people.

And, yes, we had previously experienced this sort of uneven treatment when our daughter was pushed down and injured in grade school. One sore arm and $200 x-ray for her . . . led to the school talking with the boy and his parents. That was it.

So much for zero tolerance.

For my kids, those were a few of the memorable times in their lives when the people in charge did not treat them justly. Turns out that life is not a game. However, even as really little kids, all of us know enough to feel outraged when people use different rules in order to win. Cries of “that’s not fair” are common from our youngest days.

Imagine a society where day in and day out, some people are reminded just how much the rules work better for people who aren’t like them—and that many people are just fine with that—if they’re the people getting the better part of that deal.

As long as we as a society accept the validity of treating certain people one way while treating others another, we shouldn’t be surprised when rage builds, especially when systemic inequities exist in the application of justice and opportunity.

But for those of us willing to admit that applying rules unfairly is not okay—now what? If we want to avoid being at the end of reactive responses to aggression and suppression, first we have to see and point out such oppression. And then we need to be proactive, both in leading and in choosing leaders who will unshackle this nation from its lopsided history of establishing justice for only some.

waters rolling down like justice

You may have a hard time understanding being so angry that you destroy other people’s property—and maybe even the businesses in your own neighborhood. My husband’s family owns a commercial property and we certainly don’t have the means to just replace that property and the business within it. Like many others during this time of COVID-19, we know that there is no proof that the business will make it through these uncertain days. We don’t deserve to be harmed in additional ways because someone else did something wrong.

Man, do we take umbrage when we think of being falsely thrown into any accusation of the bad behaviors of others—whether we’re business owners, working in law enforcement, or just people on the street. We shouldn’t have to suffer for the sins of others.

But as that is true for us, it is too late for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

Over 28 years ago, large and pregnant, I fretted about bringing my son and daughter into that particular time. It seemed as if all of Los Angeles were burning after four officers were acquitted of committing brutality on Rodney King. As I recently explained to my soon-to-be 28-year-old daughter, the Rodney King case was such a flashpoint because the fairly new accessibility of personal video recording devices had allowed that brutality to be captured and released into the world’s collective consciousness.

Was such injustice new? No. Were such riots new? No. What was new was that those of us far from those circumstances and happenings now had a better chance of understanding that justice was often being served unevenly.

And yet, here we are 28 years later, video after video after video released to the world, and many moms who were pregnant when I was have had to bury their children.

There is always the chatter. What were they doing to cause this? Why weren’t they respectful to the officers? Look at the crimes they have committed before. If they’re innocent, why did they resist or run? And then when other people get angry at their deaths, it’s statements such as this behavior delegitimizes their cause. There is no excuse for property destruction—or it’s only an excuse to get free stuff. And then let’s get super angry that football players kneel—of all “offensive” actions they could take—because they think that sometimes black people are served up vigilante “justice” instead of the promise inherent in our “Star Spangled Banner.”

Well, first of all, we’re supposed to have a justice system in this country that doesn’t put decisions in the hands of those who are arresting people. We don’t convict people for how they have acted in the past. We are to base our judgment only on the particular crime for which they are charged. For crimes of note, our citizens are due a trial with a judge and a jury of their peers. And—we don’t execute people on the spot for even legitimate misdemeanors or felonies. We require a series of steps before we condemn people to death. Because death is the ultimate penalty—it cannot be undone.

Beyond all the injustice we’ve watched occur in real time again and again, the feeling of impotence in these times is growing for many. It seems as if there is no legal recourse for disagreements. When the GAO points out that proposed tax changes will increase the deficit and harm the earners at the bottom and in the middle, put it through. When the public outcry on changes to SNAP and school food programs is overwhelming, let the FDA do whatever it was going to do anyway. When people armed to their teeth overrun the state houses and put up effigies of leaders, support their right to “liberate” their governments and let them stand without official resistance. Every legitimate channel for effecting change appears to becoming less about “We the People” and more about the people who are in charge now.

I could go on and on providing examples of disheartening policy changes and actions—and I am only listing a few of the grievances that have occurred with this Trump administration in leadership. If I feel threatened when our nation’s leader is retweeting statements that say “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” (a statement that hearkens to a common sentiment in taking these lands—“the only good Indian is a dead Indian”), imagine how much more a person of color feels that.

Continued similar dog whistles come from the White House—“when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons,” calling white extremists“ very fine people.

If we want to be judged on the content of our character, why are we surprised that others want the same thing?

In his poem Harlem, Langston Hughes asked what happened to a dream deferred—and finished the poem with “Or does it explode?

Why shouldn’t people of color be angry?

The question is, why aren’t more of us angry for them?

Until we turn our anger to systemic racism and do something about it, let’s stop clucking about the violence and destruction. Demand that our leaders lead toward making this a nation for all its people–or vote them out. There’s a difference between people who still are working on increasing their awareness and those who actively don’t care that some of God’s children aren’t even offered the crumbs from this nation’s tables.

justicecenterMLKquote2019

(c) 2019 Sherman Lambert

Today is what would have been the 91st birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was a worker not just for racial justice, but for justice for all. His words and life’s work sought to turn the collective consciousness of our society toward our nation’s inequities. His dream was that the American dream would be available to all of God’s children in their own country—and he paid the ultimate price for his dedication to improving access to so much of what constitutes the tables of this nation. As Christians, we are called not only to invite everyone to our Lord’s table, but also to full participation in the opportunities in this land.

And we might think we’re doing that just because we try not to harm others who do not look like us. But if we don’t want the sins of this nation’s fathers and mothers to be visited upon us, we have to also really hear those who have lived through different experiences—especially when those experiences have come from systems that appear to be applied differently based upon someone’s outward appearance. It’s easy for us to bristle when we hear the word “privilege” directed at us, especially when we are dedicated to working hard and to treating our neighbors as we like to be treated.

But despite our feelings of discomfort, it’s way past time for us to listen—and to open up to understanding that systems that seem sustaining and helpful to us may not always be applied equally to everyone.

There are stories out there of justice denied—individually and in a systemic manner, as you can read or watch in lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy book that is now also a movie. You can read up on the effects of the New Deal practice that graded neighborhoods based upon desirability for real estate investing, a practice whose long-term effects continue to shape opportunities within communities. According to the Mapping Inequality website: “These grades were a tool for redlining: making it difficult or impossible for people in certain areas to access mortgage financing and thus become homeowners. Redlining directed both public and private capital to native-born white families and away from African American and immigrant families.”

And then there may be stories told to you directly by people you know. In the early 90s, my husband Sherman’s employee—who was African American—cashed his paycheck and drove off down Federal Boulevard. Soon after, he was pulled over by the police who yanked him out of his car and threw him on the side of the road. There he was, a young man in his dress shirt and dress pants, with cash in his pockets, lying face down on that summer night as the commuters drove by. His crime? Apparently he resembled a man who had committed a crime nearby—eventually the police let him go his way. When Sherman and I heard his tale, we were incredulous at the violence of the encounter. After all, we knew the content of this man’s character. He, however, was not surprised—except for the fact that we didn’t seem to know how common such a threat was to him and others who looked like him.

It’s been over 50 years since Martin Luther King was shot down for trying to do something about inequities. I had the luxury of believing that much of what he had fought for had come to pass—because these sorts of challenges didn’t happen to me. That’s privilege. I get to choose whether to turn my outrage into action or not.

What will it take for us as a church to stop feeling umbrage when we hear the word “privilege” and instead take up the mantle of Dr. King’s fight?

This is my prayer—that we will hear those who are attempting to tell us that their experiences in this country have been different than ours and that we will work through our own discomfort and truly fight to break down the barriers that prevent all people from eating at the Lord’s table.

Please join me in speaking –and acting on—the immortal words of Dr. King: “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Because, as he also said and as is engraved on the side of the Justice Center building in downtown Denver, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

 

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