Finding My Waders
This is my third start at writing the Tuesday Cup. Earlier attempts were about the struggle with juxtaposed realities of the awesome, inspiring National Museum of African American History and Culture opening against the violence and bloodshed in the rest of our bipolar news cycle. Every time I tried to write about the museum and Charlotte, Tulsa, Houston, Burlington, and a violent weekend in DC and Baltimore, it fell apart. I couldn’t get my head around the chasm between them. Instead, the image of the Aleppo toy smuggler appeared.
Haven’t seen news clips on this smuggler? He is a Finnish-Syrian aid worker who defies dangerous odds to cross the border with food and medicine… and stuffed animals and dolls. I can’t let him go, even with so much to struggle with closer to home.
Like many stories in the museum, stories of profound courage, creativity, perseverance and hope, the smuggler seems to embody goodness in spite of evil. The museum contains Harriett Tubman’s prayer shawl that accompanied her along the Underground Railroad—oh, how I wish it could speak—and Rami Adham travels in darkness every two months with 175 pounds of donated toys. Holding a plush rabbit is as close to freedom as many of the children in camps or in the city will get.
Apparently, I need good guys and bad guys to make sense of things, and there are plenty of both in the museum and Rami’s Aleppo. But what do I do with the brave police/profiling police, and Black Lives Matter/All Lives Matter; with hopelessness and fury and guns and mental illness? Please explain Alzheimer’s or ALS. I want clarity, and it’s not there. I’m not even sure if I’m a good guy.
Teilhard de Chardin says, “It doesn't matter if the water is cold or warm if you're going to have to wade through it anyway.”
We live in a world where the absolutes, contradictions and ambivalence are all true. Instead of making sense of it all, we rely on faith to take us safely through the water. So once again I’m turning from needing answers to holding tight to what I believe, and wading in. That’s where God is, it's where the church must be, in both the pools and the rapids of uncertainty. Real life happens in this water and it is constantly moving.
I thank God for the good guys, for some clarity when I can glimpse it, but right now I’ll just rely on faith to sustain me. And I’m so glad to see so many of you in the water, too. Thanks for holding out a helping hand.