“There was a widow in that town who kept coming to the judge with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’” – Luke 18:3 (NIV)
When the policeman across the street from me had a no-social-distancing party with 40 folks, some in uniform, on his deck in plain sight, no masks anywhere, while I continued my personal quarantine, I was really mad. I thought of calling the cops, but they were the cops. I live by a general rule: Don’t try to fix people. You are not a repairman. You are also in need of repair. Relationship is better than repair. Unconditionally love the person and keep that love going no matter how many times it is rejected. And don’t overdo yourself: attitude is more important than activity.
Just say, “Tell me more.” And listen. Really listen. Don’t spend your time thinking about what you will say or do next. Just “tell me more.” Don’t name anyone your adversary if you can help it.
That’s why I didn’t call the cops and didn’t report the situation, but spoke to my neighbor, face to face, the next time I saw him walking his canine on my street. “I was really worried about you on Saturday night.” He just said, “Why?”
When it came to the party and the judgment I feel about people who don’t wear masks and don’t distance, I have had a very hard time moving out of my own self-protecting didacticism.
I need help.
God of all things, including the maximizing of free will, even to the point of permitting us to self-harm or do harm to others, help me. I know you will. Amen.
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.