Sunday, August 20, 2017

Symptom: Coffee (or lack thereof); Diagnosis: A Week

Coffee is my job in our marriage. Rob handles a ton of practical details too. But coffee is mine. This past week, coffee served up humble pie. On Wednesday morning, I discovered we were out of coffee. This never happens. NEVER. Until now. Mom arrived later that morning from the West Coast.  Mom brought coffee.  Thursday we moved our daughter her first college dorm with our crack team of her dad, her grandmother, and me.

Friday, I took off to a quasi-remote mountain spot with Mom and my sister.  During the evening chit-chat, it dawned on me, no coffee; forgotten at home. With sheepish lack of eye contact, I broke the news. Not a problem. Mom had brought special coffee for my sister too.  Resourceful types that we are, we filled a baggie with beans and pounded out some grounds.  Not too long after that moment, my husband texted to see if I had stashed back-up coffee filters anywhere. Nope. No back-ups. Telling my mother and sister the latest, and third, coffee mishap, I started to laugh until I couldn't speak. We laughed until our stomach muscles couldn't take it.

Why am I sharing this coffee tale?  Because it's a symptom of the last week. With my daughter's move, we've experienced a season change in our home. One I know that will be fine but feels surreal in the happening. Her move alone would have been enough. Way bigger is the march under Nazi flags in Charlottesville and the response from the White House. Many of us are not surprised by the existence of racial hatred. What is appalling is the explicit display of white supremacy - that white people and their agenda is the ultimate and only agenda that is worthy.  Appalling, not surprising.

Angry on behalf of my black friends and Jewish brother's family, I've spent the week in conversation with them and thinking about their own shock, anger and worries.  My response to this moment in time and my self-assessment of how I consciously and unconsciously participate in a white-people-first agenda is also on my mind.  I've written elsewhere that my faith tradition allows for this kind of self-examination. We say that we are saint and sinner at the same time. It makes sense that this would be as true for me individually as it would be for a country that imported its first African slave 400 years ago, passed the Civil Rights law in 1964, and now incarcerates a much higher percentage of black and brown people than whites per population.

It's tempting to extend the coffee metaphor into poetry about racial hatred and more subtle forms of white supremacy. I'd rather lay down the challenge ahead more explicitly. Listening to people of color, their experience and their leadership, is paramount and THE place to start. I also need to look deep inside myself to weed out racial bias and how I benefit from white-people-first agendas.  This goes for city, state, and national policy as well as bias built into implicit social codes.

This morning in worship, my faith community begins with confession and hears a word of God's good forgiveness. The forgiveness is grace. It isn't earned or deserved. Receiving God's grace inspires and strengthens me to take the hard next steps into consequences for my actions and a reset to live as Jesus teaches us to do so. May grace abound so that all people may have life and have it abundantly.*


* Paraphrase of Jesus' words in the Bible, John 10:10 - "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

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