There are days when facing my fears is easy, days when everything seems light and confident. And then there are moments, often unexpected, when a fear emerges, and all I want to do is turn around and walk away – run away.
I’ve learned over the years, as I have tried to overcome my fears for good – that I won’t. That my wounds will remain – even if I’ve forgiven everyone who put them there. Even if I made them deeper with regret or mistakes or failure. My wounds will stay, no matter my effort to seal them, close them, and forget about them. And they don’t stay because I want them to; they stay because that’s what they do. You won’t find anyone who has worked harder at resisting that which makes us who we are. We are human. We all have fears. We all have wounds. We must accept that. Each one of us. And within those wounds comes a responsibility, an opportunity, to use that hurt, that pain, for good.
I remember watching my mom as I was growing up. If she ever came across someone who was going through a rough time, she would simply be there with them. She’d put her hand on their arm, her eyes would well up with tears, and they would feel seen, begin to cry and melt into her arms. I never heard her say anything – just pure compassion and love for where they were. I always hear people say about my mom, “Mrs. Robin always makes me cry.” That’s because she is real and present – even if you aren’t going through something tough, and if she gets this wave of love, she will turn to you and say, “I love you,” with tears in her eyes. She makes pain and joy beautiful, equally beautiful. She makes everything pure and simple through recognition and acceptance and validation.
That’s what I strive for in moments like these, when my own wounds pop up, when the tears well up, when my heart breaks – I know, because of watching my mom, that the fear, the wound that is there is being transformed by being present with it, so that I can love deeper, wider, and fuller. It isn’t easy work, but it’s necessary. The moment is necessary.
As hard as it is to be rejected by others for being who you are, for me, it is even harder to reject someone else. As we stare at the face of adversity this week, and remember our brothers and sisters who have gone on, along with their families and friends; as our fears emerge – may we put our hands on one another’s arm, cry our tears, and then stand taller, braver, and more confident in who we are as individuals and as a whole.
God is those moments we open our eyes and recognize what is, God is those moments that we pause and see another, and church is everywhere because everywhere is sacred. God is love. May love be our sanctuary. May love be our church, our synagogue, our mosque, our center for worship.
(I read this at an Interfaith Service in Starkville, MS on 6/16/16. The service included readings, prayers, songs, and thoughts in honor of Orlando Pulse by people from the Christian faith community - Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian - people from the Jewish faith community, people from the Muslim faith community, and people from the LGBTQ community. Yep, Mississippi is indeed more awesome than you may think. In fact, a Baptist preacher is the one who organized this.)