Walk in the Light
“If we walk in the light as Jesus himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.” – 1 John 1:7
How often do you make a decision about which side of the street or path to walk on? If it is cold, you choose the sunny side. If warm, you might prefer shade. We also make decisions about whether to be optimistic or pessimistic. Sometimes we also enjoy the freedom of choice about hope and despair as well. Right now, a lot of people are spending a lot of time wringing their hands. They moan and groan. “Things are getting worse,” we hear. “I’m not watching the news anymore.”
I wonder if people who have been long oppressed feel the same way. Do African-Americans have choices about how to view one police person after another gets little rebuke for a street shooting? Do people crossing the border have hope? (Or what someone as white as me might call hope?)
Might there be another way to walk in the light?
Let me suggest three. One is to assert that things are not getting worse. That phrase is too broad; some things are getting worse and some are getting better. A second is to assert that things are getting “uncovered,” as Adrienne Marie Brown puts it; we are beginning to see some things about ourselves and each other that we hadn’t seen before. Third is to question: why does walking in the light sound so heroic and pious and goody two shoes? I appreciate the people who are non-heroic and still walk in the light.
A mother sleeps the night after her child is snatched from her as she seeks asylum. A deported father looks out of a bus window on his way to his former home. A social worker has a quiver of uncertainty about being told she can’t hug a crying child.
One of my members grew up during the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia. Her mother always told her that she was eating just rice at 3 a.m. but she knew there was egg on it. She also knew that her mother had risked a lot to steal that egg.
What things are really dark, let us then walk humbly and surely in the light.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.