Moving Forward

I went for a run today, yessirree, right in the middle of a sunshiny Tuesday. I couldn’t pass it up – the sunshine and what little wind there was came from the north/northeast. That means it was at my back on the back half of the run. I love that so much. From the covids time and the winter times I’m still at the more slow and steady run as opposed to the easy pacing uphill and down. It’s not my favorite, the not having the stamina to keep run-running no matter what, but since I’m racing toward a new decade that starts with a 6, it is what it is. I seek to be grateful that I can still put on the shoes and get it up and moving at any kind of pace.

The work part of running gives my mind a break for a time. My guess is we all need it, those intermittent times of not thinking. Not only is the trial happening in Minnesota, now there is an accidental shooting by an officer who thought she was using her taser. One more family of color fractured by grief. One more incident that weighs heavily on every police officer across the country who is continually trying their best to be the promise of safety for all people. One more situation that pours gasoline on the never yet gone out fire of racial injustice that is a plague for which we not only don’t have four vaccines, we don’t even seemingly have one. And our resolutions are not going to come from scientists in labs, but in each of our hearts and minds and decisions on how we treat all of God’s children each and every day. How we use our language, our places of privilege, our ability to be allies and advocate for those who are not seen nor heard nor experienced at an equal level.

I have some good friends who live down the street from retired Chiefs linebacker Will Shields. I should say 2015 inductee into the National Football League Hall of Fame who never missed a game in 14 seasons playing for the Chiefs Will Shields. He has told them story after story of being stopped on his way home after football games because he was driving “too nice a car” for his skin color . . . and it still happens, that he gets stopped for being in a too nice neighborhood with a too nice car. It. Still. Happens.

There is no special blessing that we were born with less or more melanin in our skin, you know, Will Shields and me. What I do have choice about is the opportunity to live differently in response to the injustice he experiences that I don’t. I can seek to grow in understanding as I learn more about what life is like for people that are not me, whose challenges are different than my challenges, who have a right in this country to be treated equally at least, to how everyone else is treated. I seek to be grateful for the responsibility of being a citizen in a free Republic to make my voice and my vote heard – I choose with kindness, humility, and I pray as a servant leader in the footsteps of Jesus, to proactively work for racial justice from my place in life.

There were not a lot of other people out on the path in the middle of the day when I was taking a break from not thinking about the sometimes too-muchness of life. It was sunshiny but not very warm. I usually don’t carry my winter clothes down to the basement until at least the middle or end of May. But not this year. This year I felt so efficient. This year I took them down on April 9 – last Friday. It was such a lovely 75 degree day, windy but so warm. No more turtlenecks I surmised, those days are gone for another 6 months. My neck can breathe free and my favorite sweatshirts piled up for another day. Then there was Saturday – cold, rainy, blustery Saturday. And then there was SUNDAY! Beautiful, warm, windless Sunday!!! Gorgeous more beautiful in Olathe, Kansas, than San Diego Sunday! And then there was Monday. I went back to my basement. I went back to the dark closet underneath the stairs where all good winter turtlenecks and sweatshirts go for summer break and woke them up from hibernation and carried a few back upstairs. Brian Steele did ask me on Monday morning when I was bemoaning my fate, what part of being a Kansan I still don’t understand. snort An indomitable spirit that has the ability to believe what I tell myself is true, even when there is history and evidence to the contrary. Sometimes it works for me marvelously well when I’m out running on a sunshiny albeit chilly day where I can believe that all things are working together for good. What does Paul say in Romans? “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NRSV)

I still believe it, that working together for good thing. That we can come together as a people and choose to be better than we are separately. I believe we can do better for our brothers and sisters with different amounts of melanin in the skin. I believe we can understand that it takes all of us responding to God’s call, receiving God’s love, and then working together for good according to God’s purpose. We have a long way to go, before we should take our winter clothes downstairs and put them in hibernation. And we have a long way to go before the winter of racial inequality transforms into the promise of God’s vision of inclusive and beloved community for all people.

My running pace will never set records, even when I get into better shape. But what has always been true that is still true today, I simply keep moving forward. Run-run, hill-walk-walk-walk, downhill-run-run-run, tired-and-sore-and-keep-moving, run-run and then walk a little, keep moving forward – in the footsteps of Jesus I pray, working together for good. Run-run-walk with me toward that day of justice. Run-run-walk with me in expanding our understanding, our empathy, and our willingness to be upstanders and allies. Tired and sore or in-shape and strong, together let’s keep moving forward to heal our brokenness walking with families fractured by unnecessary and unfair grief; and in support of those many in our law enforcement family trying everyday to make things better for all of us. One day all of us will run into the eternal arms of Jesus and we will know finally there was never any difference in love from our Creator, and how much we missed out on by creating and allowing injustice in this beautiful and wonderfully diverse world God has given us.

It may snow heavily in western Kansas this weekend and my clothes are now in disarray with winter and summer all mixed together with little to no order or separation. Hmmm. I must be from Kansas. And maybe, maybe there’s a message in there somewhere.