William Sloan Coffin once wrote: “The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.”
Issues of diversity in my quiet suburban town have once again reached the forefront of our local news, with a racially and ethnically diverse school at the center of turmoil over redistricting and now over a case of alleged harassment of the child of a lesbian mother. We’re in difficult territory here, in a community where recent comers arrived for a sense of peace and security and decent schools. And where some longtime residents long for the simpler times before the pressures to educate so many children pushed property taxes sky-high.
It’s easy to dwell on the dangerous and small, to feel a bit surrounded by them, and to lose touch with the demands of truth and love. Notions of truth and love have themselves been co-opted by the sense of danger and smallness in the world, and we’re stuck with pressures to consider truth in terms of what danger it poses, and love in terms that ask no risk.
God of infinite understanding, god of justice and of love, god for whose existence I hope against hope for a sign…
We are here, regular folk who want all that is best for our children. We are here, hard workers who are anxious about keeping all of our financial commitments. We are here, kind people who want to be good, and be seen for our goodness. We are here, with many different skin tones and ethnic backgrounds and life experiences. We are here, tired from daily life and prone to recline into the comfort of old stereotypes. We are here, needing to see your presence in our neighbors. We are here, praying for wisdom and open hearts and sharp minds. We wish to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Please help us know which is which, and how to move with the spirit of life that makes all people free and encourages all people toward the good. The struggle is long, and some of us are praying for rest. Deliver us by helping us to see one another more fully, to offer forgiveness as well as challenge, and hope as well as commiseration. In your mercy, help us be truthful and loving.