The reckoning that has come concerning racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the ongoing protests and marches seen around the world, has been on my mind and on the mind of many of my colleagues.
Some of us just shake our heads and weep at the pain, but some of us immediately try to find ways to ‘fix it.’ Not that we are delusional enough to think that we can do that easily. But some of us are spurned to finding solutions.
My Mom is like that whenever I’m facing a problem in my life. We used to get in a lot of arguments because I’d complain or vent to her, and she’d immediately try to supply me with five possible solutions. I didn’t want solutions. I wanted someone to hear my stress/pain/upset/confusion. We had a lot of conversations in which I said, “Mom, stop trying to fix it – just say, ‘Yeah, honey, that sucks.'” We’ve worked at it and these days, she’s pretty awesome about saying “Yeah, honey, that sucks.” (And then later, sending me links to possible solutions….by that point I’m usually ready to think about possible solutions.)
At least twice in the last couple of days, I’ve heard Black leaders say that maybe we just need to sit in our discomfort for while. My colleague, the Rev. Paulette Brown, minister at St. Andrew’s Humber Heights Presbyterian Church, said this in her sermon last Sunday (the prophet she refers to is Joel, the reading was Joel 2:1-27) :
I do believe that we are living in these times when the
word is not a word of comfort.
God knows that sometimes this word of comfort gets
in the way.
It keeps us comfortable in our conditions of suffering.
It doesn’t give us the kind of umph that we need to
stand up and to join in the struggle to change the
structures and the things that need to be changed in
order for this restoration to take place.
But the prophet is clear.
The prophet says it’s not a time for comfort.
It’s a time for your pain.
Enough is enough.
The world is in pain.
The families are in pain.
God is in pain.
And last night, I was watching Anderson Cooper as he interviewed Amber Ruffin, comedienne and writer for Late Night with Seth Myers. She talked about some of her own stories of facing racism, and the discomfort of her white friends when she told them. How quickly they wanted to move on. Because it IS uncomfortable when we see someone victimized by racism – even the ‘micro- aggression’ racism of careless comments or assumptions, causes undue and unrighteous pain.
Maybe we just need to sit with that for a while. Maybe we need to be able to sit with the pain of others, with their uncomfortable experiences, with the reality of the fact that our world is not as enlightened as we would like to believe.
I’m reminded of the hymn lyric, “I will weep, when you are weeping…” The world is weeping right now, dear friends. We owe it to the brokenhearted to weep with them.