On Saturday last week I rode my bike through slushy, sleety streets to arrive downtown for the Women’s March and rally. I held a sign that said “I Stand for Planned Parenthood.”
Forgive me. This is not a venue for political speech, but spiritual reflection. Please continue listening as I now tell you that the day before, my sister was interviewed by NBC correspondent Edward Lawrence asking her why she traveled to DC to protest the Roe v. Wade decision.
And there you have it – two siblings, 11 months apart in age, raised by the same parents in the same house, having attended the same school marching on back to back days in two different cities on opposite sides of one of the most divisive issues of our day.
Later that morning, she texted to the rest of our siblings video of her interview on NBC talking about why she was an anti-abortionist. I then texted photos of me holding my up sign.
She is the older sister who, when Dad was working three jobs and Mom was waiting tables to try and feed their seven children, practically raised us. She is the lone sister in a household with six brothers who never once felt intimidated by any one of them. She is the older sister that used to drive me to school in a used Maverick with an 8 track player and a set of speakers that could be heard by every car within a two mile radius. She is the sister who asked me to be the Godfather of her first child. She is the sister whose faith means the world to her and would do anything to show her love for her family. She is the sister who, when Mom and Dad began to show their age, sold her house and moved into another one without stairs so that Mom and Dad could come live with her.
I love my sister wildly. I’m proud of her and the way she lives her faith every day.
I wish we saw eye to eye on some really important matters, like reproductive choice. But we don’t. We just simply don’t. It is likely we never will.
Being her brother has taught me something very important. We live in a world that wants us to hate or fear or condemn the ones who don’t agree with us on the most important moral issues of our time. Having a sibling I can’t help but love in spite of our differences affords me an opportunity to see beyond the narrative of hate, fear, and condemnation.
Arguing is almost entertainment for my clan. It is not only my sister and I. Family gatherings are a chance to debate fiercely matters that in most circumstances threaten to undo bonds that tie us together in love. But one thing never changes – the fierce hugs and genuine words of love that we exchange when we get up to leave.
My spirit doesn’t require uniformity of either custom or belief in order to be well. I have learned that love, respect, and dignity are not dependent on conformity. The heart was made to love. It reflects well the image of a sacred who created in love, who is love, and who desires mostly that we know that we are loved.
There are voices that should be diminished. There are actions that cannot be tolerated. There are behaviors that must be resisted. Justice requires that. Evil flourishes when good people do nothing.
The problem we often encounter is we imagine that anyone who disagrees with us gets treated that way. My sister isn’t evil. Loving her is the most natural thing in the world. She resets my moral compass and teaches me that differences of opinion do not diminish our capacity to love and respect one another.
Gentle listener, hold fast to that which you believe. But resist the call to use what you believe as the test for whether or not you can or should love another. Be open to the spiritual healing that comes when hate and fear are diminished by love and grace on this, our sojourn Into the Mystic.