With the Coronavirus, we face fewer choices. But there remains this choice: to panic or to hope. Given the choice of giving up or doubling down, God always seems to choose the latter.
There are mornings when my quiet time pushes me to the limits of my imagination. It is not every morning. It is not every season. But when it comes, I can see God alive in all of creation – in every creak of steps as boys come down in the morning, in the birds whose songs fill the room through a cracked window, in the heart that still beats in my chest after all these years.
My chest fills with an awareness of the divine-saturated beauty of all things and of the human ignorance of its participation within it. I feel surrounded, overwhelmed, saturated in the Divine Life. Yesterday morning, I continued reading Richard Rohr’s latest, The Universal Christ, and I was struck again by the glory of God – an understanding of the ridiculously extravagant presence of the divine that is just within reach enough to knock me to my knees.
If life really is this rich, it is nearly too decadent. The glory of God can feel like a decadent chocolate cake that cannot be consumed in one sitting.
Quietly as I can, I turn off all the lights in the kitchen, leaving only the candle’s flame to light the way, giddy and erratic. I turn the chair around, slowly and methodically, to face out the window. I breathe in the state of the world – the sleeping boys, the snoring dog, the rising world.
For a moment, the only important thing to do is to see the branches.
Taller than the window allows me to see, the trees hold last night’s snow. The heaviness cannot defy their slender frames. Subtle at first, the branches move. The stiller I become, the more I realize that they are in constant movement. I recognize the persistent winds that blow across the top of our house on a still morning.
How still do you have to become to notice the branches move?
How dark does it have to become to witness its shape in the morning light?
With busy lives (tasks with deadlines; needs with accompanying cries, whimpers, and whines; minutes that tick by without permission), how can we live with centered hearts (the kind that focuses our caring labor on the long-game care of humanity; not the kind we assume comes from the labels that people use to define our personhood), swelling gratitude (the kind that is born from the “enough” around us; not the painted calligraphy kind that is purchased at craft stores), and abundant grace (the kind that comes from the wells of forgiveness for perpetual imperfection; not the kind from ballerinas or naive optimism)?
If not for the Divine Parent who loves our busy lives, forgives our imperfect attempts, and redeems our busyness, I know not how.
“Who loves you more than me?” I asked as we pulled up to the bus stop.
“Daddy?” he asked.
“No. Even more than Daddy.”
“Yes, God loves you so much – more than even Daddy and I can. And God loves every single person the most – each person who sits at your table in school, the ones who walk down the hallway next to you, your teachers, and the people holding signs by the interstate entrances. Can you imagine loving everyone so much?”
Last year when I had to walk youth through some difficult moments, I grabbed a dry-erase marker and created three columns… what we know, what we feel, and what we say we believe (and must remind ourselves in hard times). As the inauguration looms, I find myself employing the same strategy for the future that looms before us.
To the baby cradled in his mother’s arms,
Feel the warmth. Soak in the affection. Nurture your belonging in this beautiful world. Gaze in her eyes and receive her fierce devotion. This is your birthright. This moment is your true identity as beloved divine creation.
I dream for you a world where all others embrace you the same way your mother does now.
I dream for you a world where you may flourish in freedom of body, soul, and mind.
I dream for you a time and place where others may perceive your tender heart and your endless potential, just by the sight of you.
Even as your mother gazes upon you today, she is preparing for the talk. She will one day have to sit you down on the porch and speak to you about the world as it is. Her heart will twist and turn in her chest as she places a new identity over this first one – black male in America.