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Opening Our Doors – A Reflection

May 30, 2020
The Irvin Homestead (1917) in Hermit Park Open Space near Estes Park, Colorado

Today we went on a hike in Hermit Park Open Space near Estes Park. It had been a day of meetings, work emails, and studying for class. Both of us needed the break and simply needed to have a chance to breathe. While we hiked and explored an old homestead and sawmill, people were trying to make it through another day around this nation and world.

I began thinking about the smoldering rage and anger of people of color in Minneapolis, MN and other places in this country. The senseless deaths of so many are added to the horrors of nearly five hundred years of slavery, discrimination, and belittlement. If someone wants to know why there is so much rage and anger, go to places like the National Civil Rights Museum in Montgomery, Alabama or the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. As a white man, I cannot presume to understand this legacy in its entirety. However, I can encourage you to walk through the memorial to the lynching victims tortured and murdered by white supremacist terrorists… as you see the hundreds of jars of soil taken from lynching sites around this nation… let it sink in. This was part of the oppression that Dr Martin Luther King, Jr and others fought against. This was the evil which tried to keep the dream from being alive. This is the legacy we see today in disproportionate mass-incarceration (the new lynching according to the Equal Justice Initiative) and the killing of so many men, women, and children simply because their skin is a different color.

Last night I wrote about the need for the white moderate or progressive to be invited to the table, keep our mouths shut, and listen. We need to listen and acknowledge the horrors faced by people of color along with their ancestors. Only by acknowledging our complicity in the evils of the past and present can we stand up to the white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and racists and walk with our neighbors towards a future where, in the words of the Prophet Amos, justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:24)

I came across a poem written by Thomas Merton which addresses some of what I am thinking. Merton was writing about the fear so many had in his day (and long before) of beggars. They were to be ignored and shoved aside. They weren’t human in the eyes of the so-called righteous individual. In the poem “Ointment” he opens with the following lines.

This day throw open all your houses, and forever,

And love, not fear, the many poor.

(Poem, The Ointment in Entering the Silence: The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume Two 1941-1952, p. 8)

I know that I have been called, along with Denise, to throw open our doors and share our hospitality with ALL of God’s children. We are called to love, not fear those who might be different from us in some way. We are called to see in each other an individual, created in the image of God. May we throw open our hearts and our homes… may we love extravagantly… may we be instruments of God’s peace.

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