I sat in church when I got the text: several shots fired outside our house. Then another text. And another. Everyone ok. No one hit. The house shook. The house shook. I never thought about gunshots shaking a house. I imagined they could shake a soul but I no longer imagine it. The images of violence in our nation are no longer part of my imagination. Because I chose it. We chose it. And I wonder, why, again, did we chose this? Here where bullets fly on streets as children play? Our children and our children because, remember, there are no other people’s children.
It’s enough to shake your soul.
I sat in church when I got the text, not for a sermon, no, for Joseph and his amazing technicolor coat. My big boys sandwiched me, eyes open wide as the lights dim low.
I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain
To see for certain what I thought I knew
Far far away, someone was weeping
But the world was sleeping
Any dream will do
I tried to enjoy it. Tried to be present. I tried not to think about the fact that for the first time since moving here, I didn’t want to go home.
I wore my coat, with golden lining
Bright colors shining, wonderful and new
And in the east, the dawn was breaking
And the world was waking
Any dream will do
The concession stand ran out of pizza two people too soon. We inhaled our Cheetos and candy bars before the lights laid low again, and all I could think was how my husband said he “laid low” with our three kids at home when he saw the muzzle flash. What the hell is muzzle flash?
We slipped back into our seats for Act II of Joseph’s story.
A crash of drums, a flash of light
My golden coat flew out of sight
The colors faded into darkness
I was left alone
The lump in my throat grew as we approached the corner where the shots were fired just a couple of hours earlier. I expected it to look different from when we left. It didn’t.
Two neighbors stood outside, their porcelain smiles bright across ebony skin, a light in the dark evening sky. A couple of kids rode croggy on a bike.
I sent the big boys off for jammies and teeth brushing. My husband gave me a brief rundown of the night’s events. “What kind of gun shakes a house?” I ask, not because I don’t already know the answer, but because I don’t want to know it.
May I return to the beginning
The light is dimming, and the dream is too
The world and I, we are still waiting
Any dream will do
The crashing waves of violence-prayer-violence-prayer-violence-prayer are as familiar to our team as the waves of the Atlantic. The push and pull of Light and darkness is ever-present here. A couple of years ago, as a battle raged on the streets and in the heavenlies, one of our neighbors smashed his semi-automatic with a sledgehammer on the sidewalk. An outward expression of inward heart change.
It is in prophetic moments like that one my hope to dream is renewed. After all, it was God himself who said Light would shine out of darkness.
And when you dare to dream, you bear witness to the Light.
When you dare to dream, families are made whole.
When you dare to dream, weapons are laid low.
And when weapons are laid laid low at the foot of the cross, that majestic and scandalous place where the last are first, where the poor inherit the Kingdom and where boundless compassion swallows our fear? That’s when the shalom of Heaven touches Earth and the Kingdom come is here and now. That’s when the beatitudes break through like the scorching Miami sun.
When we dare to dream that the God of the Bible really is who He says He is and actually is already doing what He says He will do, our souls shake for an altogether different reason. We get to participate in Kingdom work we would never even be able to see otherwise.
Courage is our nature in Christ friends, may we not allow fear to stand in the way of walking in it.
If you’d like to explore this idea of boundless compassion, I invite you to join me in the first ever Light Breaks Forth Book Club! Starting next month, we will be walking through Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, written by Father Greg Boyle. Father Boyle has lived among gang members in LA for over twenty years, showing them the boundless compassion of Christ. This book is one I continually come back to in my quest for loving others unconditionally and with joy. All the details can be found here and the book is on SALE on Amazon for less than ten bucks!!! I hope you’ll join us!