From one perspective, Skeet was the embodiment of all the problems plaguing our neighborhood. When you can only see broken windows, Skeet looked only like a broken man. But no person or neighborhood is only broken. What the folks closest to the ground knew was that Skeet helped hold Enderly Park together.
The form keeps shifting, but the outcome has remained constant for generations. Those on the bottom of the hierarchy have calamity visited upon body and spirit and household. The trouble – racism, greed, violence – crushes people.
The scourge of overt white supremacy has been with us all along, from the time the first Europeans washed up on these shores. It will persist until we fix it. And it is ours to fix. Now.
Now is the time to pray the kinds of difficult prayers that might re-establish a common moral narrative around caring for the poor, making healthcare accessible, pursuing peace rather than war and building a just and inclusive economy.
The lack of roots in the places we inhabit, and the lack of care for the places that nourish and sustain our lives, are issues of discipleship. The systemic results of environmental distress and collapse come to bear on the bodies of poor people and people of color in the United States. This is called environmental racism, and it, too, is an issue of discipleship.
It is only in suspension that the sacredness of the present is made plain. What lies ahead cannot be seen, but each day has enough trouble of its own. For now, there is this moment. This breath. This being here.
Our final chapters have been written. On that great gettin’ up morning, we will see Jesus, and we will be like him, having been freed from death. We know how the story ends, but we do not know how we get there. The middle chapters are missing.
Among the unavoidable claims of the gospel is that those following in the way of Jesus will be wounded. The Way leads to abundance, but it is not painless. A false gospel — or a half-gospel — wounds, but not in a way that brings about healing. White Jesus wounds the body and soul of everyone he encounters, but lacks either the power or the gentle touch to bind up our wounds.
White navel-gazing is not the proper orientation toward Black History Month. We’ve got to do the needed self-examination, but we are not the center of the narrative. Using the work of blacks to put ourselves back at the center of the story is not the right strategy. But while reading all that black history, it does help to know what seat we are sitting in.