My Country Broke My Heart
If we see hope, it’s not really hope. – Romans 8:24 (adapted)
I hoped that my country was as good as the teachers said. I hoped that my homeland was exceptional.
Then I started figuring out the math about Native Peoples and how we stole their land. Maybe it was the cellphone that showed me how much violence there always has been against black men, in particular, as well as queer people. I had always known domestic violence. It lived in the “master” bedroom in my house. I had followed my mother’s lead in making sure nobody knew how bad it was in our house, only to discover, as a pastor, that incest joined to domestic violence are fairly commonplace in our country.
These truth-filled looks at my country started a long time ago. They have matured into a great-type twisting. The great national reckoning of Spring 2020 resulted in my losing what little innocence I had left. Somebody should write a growing up novel about a seventy-year-old.
I am learning to take not just the one knee of protest. Now I am learning how to take two knees. The ones of personal repentance as well as its public partner.
Clarinetist Andrew McGill plays a rendition of “America the Beautiful.” He doesn’t let the music end. He leaves it unfinished. He leaves it open. What else is there to do with a broken heart?
Hope that you can see isn’t hope. You have to hope for it, on your knees. From there you have a pretty good picture of God’s future, instead of yours alone. That hope begins the process of repairing your past and making reparations forward, for a truly exceptional future.
Unfinished Spirit, twist us into pretzels of prayer. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Pastor at the Orient Congregational Church on the far end of Long Island, New York. Her newest book is Remove the Pews: Spiritual Possibilities for Sacred Spaces, from The Pilgrim Press.