Hands and Feet

"Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world."

    -   Quote attributed to St. Teresa of Avila

My head is spinning after the events of this week, so I’m going to keep this post short. If you somehow missed the news this week, a group of neo-Nazis descended upon my alma mater, the University of Virginia, last Friday carrying torches, chanting racist phrases, and intimidating – and even assaulting – peaceful counter-protestors. Then Saturday, at another location in Charlottesville, a neo-Nazi ran over a group of counter-protestors with his car, killing Heather Heyer, who is my age, and injuring 19 others. Finally, President Trump did not clearly and decisively condemn the white supremacists and even seemed to sympathize with them and place blame on peaceful counter-protestors who he called the “Alt-Left.” Through the jumble of thoughts in my mind, I keep coming back to two main ideas: 1) We are Jesus’ hands and feet, so we have to act, and 2) We have to take care of ourselves. Let me elaborate quickly on each.

First, as Christians, we are God’s hands and feet on this earth. Jesus came to Earth, lived, taught, died, and was resurrected to show us God’s love and vision for our world. However, we do not live as if we understand and accept our identity as children of God or work toward God’s kingdom on Earth as if it were truly possible. Over and over again, Jesus shared a vision of our world in which the poor are rich, the weak are strong, and the peacemakers are blessed. To me, Jesus’ teaching and example means that we need to work today and every day to ensure that the poor, the sick, the refugee, and the outcast become accepted, healed, included, and powerful. Or, DeRay Mckesson said this week on Pod Save America, “The arc of justice may bend but it only bends because people bend it, not because it just naturally bends.” We need to examine how the current world-order benefits us and what we need to do to create a world where we’re all on an equal playing field like the upside-down kingdom God envisions. This video from Brene’ Brown is a great place to start in examining your own privilege. Also, as the associate pastor reminded our congregation on Sunday, Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, a value he lived out. Several former white supremacists shared this week that it was love and acceptance, not hate and shame, that helped them to break out of the white supremacist ideology. If you’re struggling with how to pray for those you find challenging, check out my previous post on the prayer of loving kindness for a helpful way to start praying for others and developing empathy.

And second, we have to take care of ourselves. It can be exhausting staying aware of what’s happening in our communities and world and responding effectively. Going to Bible study, treating myself to ice cream with my boyfriend, trying a new type of yoga, and participating in a free improv workshop were bright moments that energized me in an otherwise tough week. Stick to the basics. Don’t get sucked into the social media/news death-spiral. Make time to play, rest, exercise, and connect with friends. If all else fails, there is #sheetcaking. We can do hard things. Take care of you, and then get back out there!

Finally, I want to give a shout out to my dad, who called to check in on me after the events in Charlottesville. Dad and I do not usually agree on politics, but we could agree that the white supremacists’ ideology and tactics were evil, and we had a wide-ranging conversation covering everything from Confederate monuments to Black Lives Matter to white privilege to mass incarceration. I truly appreciated his curiosity, vulnerability, and humility. I am not exaggerating when I say that our conversation gave me hope that our world can become a more loving, inclusive place.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the week in the comment box below. What are you doing to act? What are you doing to take care of you? As always, thanks for reading.

Beyond Charity

Learning to Sail