This week we’re talking about the power of touch. The invitation to be present. We make a difference in our world, not by shaming or tidying up or “converting”, but, in the words of the little boy to his momma (asking to be held), “Sometimes I need Jesus with skin on it.”
The little boy knew the secret. Life is to be found in the embrace. In the presence of the other. In the touch, we can be present.
We begin there.
As our southern kin might say, “That’ll preach.” Yes… that’ll preach regardless of your faith or creed. That’ll preach even if you are not a member of any particular faith group.
That’ll preach even if you don’t believe.
Because in the touch, we can be present.
We can let our light spill.
It is the little things that make a difference.
But what if we can’t see than light?
In a commencement address Fred Rogers told those gathered, “Beside my chair in my office is a framed piece of calligraphy with a sentence from Saint Exupery’s book, The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince). It reads: “L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” (“What is essential is invisible to the eye.”) I feel the closer we get to knowing and living the truth of that sentence, the closer we get to wisdom. What is essential about you that is invisible to the eye?”
Mr. Rogers continues, “You know, the Greek word for ‘thanks’ is eucharist. The way we say ‘thank you’ to God and to each other is the greatest imaginable form of appreciation. In fact, the reason we are created in God’s image—in God’s tzelem—is to be God’s representatives on this earth—to do here what God would do—to take care of the land and each other as God would take care of us.
You don’t ever have to do anything sensational in order to love or to be loved. The real drama of life (that which matters most) is rarely center stage or in the spotlight. In fact, it has nothing to do with IQs and honors and the fancy outsides of life. What really nourishes our souls is the knowing that we can be trusted, that we never have to fear the truth, that the foundation of our very being is good stuff.”
All of this lives inside. Today. And can be born in the midst. Enabling us to be present, to rise above, to find value, to take heart and to be Jesus in skin.
Thank you Mr. Rogers.
And from that sufficiency, light spills…
Quote for our week… I believe in person to person. Every person is Christ to me, and since there is only one Jesus, that person is the one person in the world at that moment. Mother Teresa
Wednesday –This week I told the story of Sr. Sister Mary Antona Ebo and her presence on the Selma Bridge. Honoring this truth: in touch we can be present.
We may never walk Selma. We may never give sermons to masses. We will however, come daily face to face with unkindness or cruelty or discouragement or mercilessness. This is not an assignment or a test. Just an invitation to remember that there are hands to hold. There are hearts to encourage. There are people disconnected and afraid.
Be a sanctuary.
Spill your light.
Even when it means saying, “I was wrong.”
On March 3, 2013, I witnessed such a choice.
I was honored to participate in the Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage (to Selma and Montgomery and Birmingham to commemorate Bloody Sunday and crossing the Selma Bridge). We sat in the First Baptist Church of Montgomery (in the 60s led by Ralph Abernathy and significant in the Montgomery Bus Boycott).
Police Chief Kevin Murphy was not initially invited to the event, but was asked to speak only after Montgomery’s mayor and director of public safety were unable to attend. And Chief Murphy went off script. He was supposed to say, “Welcome to Montgomery.” Instead, he said he wanted the Montgomery Police Department to be “heard in a different light than what history has recorded in years past. There’s still a lot of work to do; we know that. We, the police department, need to make the first move to build that trust back in our community that was once lost because we enforced unjust laws. Those unjust laws were immoral and wrong. But you know what? It’s a new day. And there’s a new police department and a new Montgomery here and now and on the horizon.”
Captain Murphy asked Rep. John Lewis (our pilgrimage leader) to stand, and come forward. Rep. Lewis–a Civil Rights worker, a Congressman–was on the Selma Bridge that original Bloody Sunday, and was beaten.
Captain Murphy said simply, “We owe you an apology.”
“When you got off the bus in 1961, you didn’t have a friend in the police department.” (At the time, the Police department stood to the side as protestors were beaten and killed.) “I want you to know that you have friends in the Montgomery Police Department–that we’re for you, we’re with you, we want to respect the law and adhere to the law, which is what you were trying to do all along.” Chief Murphy removed his badge, handing it to John Lewis, “This symbol of authority, which used to be a symbol of oppression, needs to be a symbol of reconciliation.”
“It means a great deal,” Lewis said later. (Lewis had been arrested during civil rights protests in cities across the south, saying it was the first time a police chief had ever apologized to him.) “I teared up. I tried to keep from crying.”
When asked after, Murphy told reporters, “I did it because it was the right thing to do.”
Here’s the deal: We can create. We can create bridges for reconciliation and second chances and peace making.
We can create roads for mercy and generosity and justice.
We can create floors for dancing and music and celebration.
We create bandages for wounds and fractured spirits and broken hearts.
We create sanctuaries for safety and prayer and hope.
In that Montgomery church I realized that it doesn’t matter what we expect from life, but what life expects from us. As a result, we can choose to unleash our heart, in order to be our better selves.
Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
The path to your door
Is the path within:
Is made by animals,
Is lined by flowers,
Is lined by thorns,
Is stained with wine,
Is lit by the lamp of sorrowful dreams,
Is washed with joy,
Is swept by grief,
Is blessed by the lonely traffic of art,
Is known by heart,
Is known by prayer,
Is lost and found,
Is always strange,
The path to your door.
Photo… Peace and Love to Ukraine in the Garden… “Terry, In my yard on the Central Coast of California. I painted the iron garden heart to resemble the flag of Ukraine. I just wanted the walkers in the neighborhood to be reminded that the Ukrainian people need our collective prayers of peace and love. I like to imagine that healing light energy reaches them in wave after wave of prayer. God bless,” Linda Corley…