Listen, learn, love?

/ 23 November 2006

On a day in which many people in the United States will celebrate all that we can be grateful for, a day of thanksgiving, it is more important than ever to remember our guilt as well as our gratitude. Part of what I’m learning from the Lutherans with whom I teach and worship, is that we are ALL of us, intimately, both saint and sinner. We are thoroughly broken, flawed, sinful human beings — AND gifted by the overwhelming love and grace of God, liberated to love freely and fully.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the people we (that is, middle class white US folk) have pretty much forgotten. At the top of my list this morning are the captives in Guantanomo, Abu Ghraib, and so on, but while those might be the most "visible" of the invisible folk, there are people trapped in our prison systems all across the country. And there are people trapped on streets with no roofs over their heads, and no food to feel their children. And people trapped in the horrible situation of having to choose between buying food or buying medicine.

There's something particularly painful to me about this holiday, Thanksgiving. On the one hand, it's one of the few times each year when I reconnect with a good chunk of my Wisconsin family and share stories and laughs, way too much food, chasing after kids on the playground, and so on. That is the deep joy of the day.

But it is also a day that began more than two centuries ago in the gratitude of people, sojourners on a distant shore, who were helped by the hospitality of people who had no particular reason to help them. Who will WE help today? Where is OUR hospitality? Clearly not in Minnesota at the airport, where a group of Muslim Imams were thrown off a plane for praying. How will we learn what real hospitality means?

So I live in the between place of deep joy, and deep sadness. Something about that tensegrity FEELS right today.