Who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea; who made the bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south; who does great things beyond understanding, and marvelous things without number. Job 9:8-10
I love looking at the sky on a starry night. Few things in this life bring me closer to God than looking up and realizing just how small, vulnerable, helpless and dependent on God I really am. We fool ourselves into believing that we have so much control in life, and we believe that if we can just find the right words or wear the right thing or own the right stuff that we will be able to sway the hearts and minds of people into loving us and taking us more seriously. We forget that we are nothing more than instruments used by God for creating, moving, changing and unfolding marvelous things without numbers. We are like the stars in the heavens, twinkling into some distant future, putting the spark of wonder into the eyes of our descendants; and as much as we would like to believe that we control the destiny of our twinkle, it is God alone who causes us to twinkle.
So much has happened this week that will directly affect the lives of our descendants. We have a long way to go, but finally the lid is off the pot of racism, and no one can pretend to ignore the mess inside any longer. Michael Brown’s twinkle has reflected in all of our eyes. The whole world is watching and shaking their heads; wondering if those of us who dared to stir the pot will keep at it, or get tired and go home. We are tired; it is time to go home; but it is not time to stop stirring the pot. It is time to go home and start practicing what we have been preaching, and that is about all the pot most of us can handle. It’s easy to protest; it’s easy point fingers at the system and at each other, but if we truly want change; if we truly want a just and peaceful world; the change has to begin in our own hearts before we can twinkle in any sort of sustainable way. Now is the time to take what we have learned and start processing it together. It is time to ask that age old question that always seems to derail us – where do we go from here?
Justice for Michael Brown is not enough. It is only a start because what happened to Michael Brown symbolizes what is happening to black men all over the United States. What happened to Michael Brown symbolizes what is happening to anyone who does not have the right skin color and the right credentials to even be in the United States. It symbolizes what happens to anyone in the United States who is too old, too broken, too mentally ill or too economically depressed to work. It symbolizes what goes on behind the closed doors of broken homes all over this country where the strong terrorize the weak and women and children are battered and abused. What happened to Michel Brown symbolizes a breakdown of compassion, love, understanding, patience and kindness – and these are the things that lead us to what we are seeking – justice – for Michael Brown and for all of us.
Justice for all is the goal, but the only way we are going to have it is if we all start extending it to each other. Justice is not something to be demanded; it is something to be practiced. It is not something that begins at the top and then works its way down; it is something that begins wherever we are at. If we cannot offer our compassion and understanding to each other in our everyday lives then we certainly cannot expect justice to just magically appear from somewhere else.
But a change of heart can magically appear from somewhere else because we are instruments of a God who delights in using us for creating, moving, changing and unfolding marvelous things without numbers. It is God who causes us to twinkle, and when we ask God to change our hearts and use us for greater purposes – God responds – joyfully. We might not be able to agree on who or what God is, but we can all gaze at the stars and agree that there is a force that does great things beyond our understanding. That force is just waiting for us to ask for help. I pray that when my descendants look back on this moment in history they will see us turning to God in a way that we have never done before. And I pray that our twinkle will be the beginning of a just world where everyone is valued, respected and loved.