Walk With Him: a Lament

 When I have to ask my kid whether he is afraid when he goes to school or out in neighborhood, just because he’s Asian... I lament. 
 
 
 When I have conversation after conversation with my son in 3rd grade and 6th grade and every day in small-town-northern-Illinois, and today, about what it feels like to be called names, slurs typically ascribed to other ethnic Asian groups because, to the uninformed or monochromatic-social-experience ‘all Asians look alike’... I lament.
 
 
 When I preach about how Jesus came to show us how much God loves us all and that we are made to follow in the same way calling out injustices, examples of when humankind choose hate toward a group of humans based on how they look or speak or love — over love... and someone in the congregation sneers... as my teenaged son, faithful, sits in the front row... my heart breaks in a billion pieces... and I lament. 
  
 I don’t have the words. I just know that teenagers already have more than enough to contend with. And I keep thinking that we should be getting better at this. I strive to keep hope, but wow am I tired. 
  
 It occurs to me
  
 that hateful acts are thrust outward, hurled at the other
    on the other side of the road 
    on which we all travel;
  
 that we all want the same thing, really:
    to be free to be who I am, you are—
       bearing the image and likeness of the Divine,
    to love our family and friends
       our children safe to grow, thrive, become more
          divine;
  
 that by choosing to stay on the side of the road
    it may be easier to cast that stone, anonymous 
    but the edge is rough, uneven, rutted, making liable falling in a ditch
       injury or worse… and again… and again…
    
 that if I choose to move to the center of the road, smooth—
    exposed,
    I might notice the one in a ditch on the other side,
       see her scar, recognize his grief, and offer
       my hand;
  
 that if I can perceive the pain of another, I can also understand the humanity
    and detect the divine,
    and vulnerable, in the center of the road, you might
       see me;
  
 that if I chose to walk alongside this one who looked so different 
    from the other side of the road, 
    whose perspective seemed so uncomfortable before really knowing...
 both exposed, subject to others’ hurling stones, scary…
  
 still. The path is smooth and straight and I hold your hand,
    you hold mine. And somehow,
    somehow you don’t seem that different
 and this road leads to a light I couldn’t see before—
       life. 
  
 When I tell my kid that it’s worth it to be on this road that leads to life, that there will be others who will walk with him, beside him… 
    will you risk exposure to take his hand even though he doesn’t look like you?
 The road is wide, seems safe on the side, and so easy to heave hateful taunts… 
    but while you destroy another, you walk the way of destruction
       ditch after duct, gutter after gully… 
    will you risk exposure to take his hand even though his perspective unsettles you?
  
 because the more who walk the high ground, while exposed
    we walk together, a group—strengthened
    encouraged. Human. More
       divine
  
 will you walk with him?
 But first, we lament. 

By Nicole

Nicole Oliver Snyder’s expertise lies in the areas of leadership, gender issues, and mindfulness practice as it affects both. Leadership, particularly in an urban setting, requires community-relations skills, and an ability to clearly convey justice issues as they relate to felt, spiritual ones. Dr. Snyder is author of Leading Together: Mindfulness and the Gender Neutral Zone, and specializes in teaching mindfulness leadership development, formative spirituality, counseling, and Old Testament theology (emphasis on justice issues). She has a diverse background in international community-relations work combined with volunteer work in multi-ethnic communities, and with local institutions. She is an ordained Clergy; holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies, w/Education Certificate, an MA-Counseling, MDiv Equiv., holds a Doctor of Ministry and Advanced Certification in Formative Spiritual Direction, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (MI).