On Writing and Second Drafts
|Own it. Never read it. |
JUST BE THE SPARK; SILENCE DOES NOT ALWAYS = COMPLICITY
I am known as someone who writes humor—and not always church-ready humor—but inspiration for humor has been scarce lately. A pandemic. Powder-keg racial tensions brought about by centuries of racial inequities. Rolled back protection for the environment, for health care, for human life. It doesn’t feel like the world is telling us what our church tells us: “No matter who you are, you are welcome here.” Instead, the world may be making many of us ask, “Am I, really?”
Someone recently pointed me to a segment with comedian Dave Chappelle, which I share with a heavy degree of warning: He speaks his truth, but not all of it is church-ready. But maybe it is. We can’t live in a vacuum. We need to hear words from people like him. Thing is, even he couldn’t do comedy. He spoke on the glaring injustices he has witnessed as a black man. "I don't mean to get heavy," he said. "But we gotta say something."
Lots of people are saying something. And much of it is very disturbing. I fight myself to avoid Facebook because I find it shocking to hear some of the cold opinions of people I know and love. People I have loved for a very long time are saying things, vehemently, that grate against everything I believe in and everything that I thought was Christian: love, justice, equality in God’s eyes. They were raised Christian, too, so how could they possibly… oh, never mind. Sometimes I look at Facebook and I start to comment, to defend the meek and stand up to unkindness—and then I stop. There is a time and a place for productive conversation. Facebook ain’t it.
But silence does not always equal complicity.
When asked to say something about what is going on since the George Floyd murder, Dave Chappelle said he’d been pretty silent up to that point. He wondered what more could a celebrity possibly add? "The streets are speaking for themselves," he said. He’s right. Sometimes silence is okay and action speaks louder than words. As the sun rose behind the thick leaves of our garden one morning, I looked out and saw a bright spark in the dark dawn. A pint glass left on the picnic table captured a tiny shaft of light and magnified it. Just one bright spark shining out in the morning silence. Reminding me: We don't always have to say what is right, and good, and just. As Christians, we are called not to say those things, but to be those things. We are called to do those things.
We are called to be the spark. That doesn’t always require words, but it always, always says far more than words alone.