As I mentioned earlier, I had a meeting with Jeffrey Thames, director of Hope Restored, over coffee this morning. It was a hot coal touching my lips that created a fire I’ve never experienced before. Jeffrey and I are on the same page, and it feels wonderful to have met someone that is so appropriately angry at the things going on in our county and has the power to help in a way that I don’t……………………. yet. #prayingonthespaces
Jeffrey is a Marine, and it shows in everything he does. He wears his dog tags even still, and that’s how I knew that shit was about to get real. If the director of this organization is a Marine, we are not going to sit idly by at our desks, because we are going to get it handled. Marines do not have “no” in their vocabulary. Jeffrey has already been labeled a “troublemaker” by the Establishment, and I told him that I couldn’t wait until they thought that about me, too.
In this meeting, we walked the Bible in a hundred different ways. We both talked about the fact that an MDiv degree is a “render unto Caesar” sort of requirement, because we are called to God the moment we are born. Jeffrey said, and I agree, that when you breathe in, you are taking on the power of the universe, and that never requires paper. In response, I said, “that is very similar to what I say, that God is simply every side to every story that’s ever been told and ever will be.”
I brought up the flip side, though, that the piece of paper has authority. That it means something to be pictured in the media walking with the people you’re trying to prosper wearing a clerical collar. I immediately thought of the Freddie Gray protests, and how one of the most powerful images on the Internet was the line of pastors in their stoles and collars, because it truly showed the world how when Christianity is done right, it means going where the people are instead of expecting them to come to you.
Jeffrey offered to take me to all of the homeless camps so that I could meet people, possibly staying overnight to really experience what it was like. I am not afraid. I am carried by the light of Christ, and if that isn’t enough, I have a badass Marine protecting me using the light of Christ as well. We talked about his Holy Spirit moment, the coal that touched his lips.
Tears ran down my face as he told me that in high school, all of his teachers had written him off as one of those people who would never amount to anything, because it just hit me where I live. I told him that very reason was why I was sitting in his office, and why I’d applied to Howard to finish my Bachelor’s and go on to seminary at the same school.
He looked at me for a moment like I had three heads and said, “you know you’re white, right?”
I laughed like hell and said, “no, I hadn’t noticed.”
Matt assured me in our conversation last Sunday that there were white people that go to Howard, but even if he hadn’t, the moment I heard it was a UCC school, I was in. There is nothing in the world that could drag me away. It’s not like I’ve never lived in a black community before. I went to University of Houston. South Tower, where I lived, was predominantly black. I don’t remember who said it, but I remember it clearly, that I might be a white cracker bitch, but I was THEIR white cracker bitch.
I know how to fit in anywhere, especially in a black community because I am interested in the issues that black people face trying to make their dreams happen. I get down and dirty into race relations, because I want to be one of the people that helps solve problems and not add to them. When people hear my name, I want them to smile and say, “oh man…. she is WITH US.” Yes. Yes, I am. I am in your community, I am fighting for your rights, and Jeffrey and I are on a mission.
It’s not just about race, but it’s clear that there are so many more black homeless people than white. I want to know why that is. The biggest issue that I want to take on is actually twofold, but I lump them together. The first is for-profit prisons and how that affects black sentencing over white. I also want to know why the community where I live is choosing to step over the issue of homelessness rather than trying to solve it. As I told Jeffrey, I am incensed that the homeless shelter in Silver Spring is only open from November to April, because how cold did it get last night? For those who don’t live in the area, imagine sleeping on the ground while it’s in the 50’s and raining.
When I imagine it, I get angry. I have to breathe deeply and concentrate on the light of Christ, because when I don’t, I get Jesus God table-flipping angry. That anger motivates me with a fire I’ve never experienced, but it’s not going to help me in front of a judge, or a board of directors, or the Chamber of Commerce, or any one of the “Romans” I have to disrupt.
These issues and the way they’re being handled are showing the true colors of modern-day Pharisees. People who talk about God as if they own God and are speaking from a place of ego instead of energy working through them. If they truly went into their closets to pray, they would come out of them with a very different outlook, because their direction is skewed by professing God without really knowing what it means to use that energy.
The best analogy I can think of for this is lifting a heavy box. Do you see what dog I’m walking? When you lift with your arms, it’s a different experience than using your legs. When you use your legs to lift, you are putting all of the power in your body into this one simple task, and it makes lifting easier. Pharisees use their arms. They do not put the whole of their energy into their tasks at hand. As I have said before, the connection is God to head, head to feet, feet to floor. Modern-day Pharisees are not tapping into the whole of their energy. God resides in speaking in, not speaking out.
What do I mean by “speaking in?” It’s that truly great change comes from looking in the mirror and seeing all of the ways you are broken and using that brokenness to create soft power because you are not looking down at others with pity. You know that in your own way, you are as broken as they are…. you’ve just taken a different path. Your power comes from your humanity.
Modern-day Pharisees think that they have it all together and speak from a place of authority that was never given to them, because in order to receive the true light of Christ and the invitation to wholeness, you have to know yourself, first; If you don’t, you are simply projecting the way you think onto other people instead of joining them in their struggle. It is throwing money at the problem instead of really seeing it.
Today, I started to see. I opened my eyes a little wider and tried not to cry, because homeless people do not need my tears. They need my action.
May God add his blessings as I begin this journey, because it’s going to get harder before it gets easier. Here’s the difference now than when I was younger…. it is simply one phrase.
HERE AM I. SEND ME.