“What was the best and the worst part of your week?” This is my go to question. Life is full of ups and downs and I believe the only way to really live is to fully embrace both. I asked a friend of mine this a few days ago, to which she replied: “I think the worst part is just all the shit that’s happening in the world right now”.
Wednesday night, a straight up racist gunned down nine people in a church in Charleston. There’s too much to talk about this tragedy but for now, I want to focus on the aftermath. I woke up this morning and read a bunch of articles about how this is the first Sunday since the shooting and how packed the place was. A member of the church stated, “We’re gonna have people come by that we’ve never seen before and will probably never see again, and that’s OK,” he said. “It’s a church of the Lord, you don’t turn nobody down.” (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/21/charleston-church-where-nine-black-churchgoers-were-killed-to-reopen)
If you’ve been keeping up with the story, you’ve seen the victim’s families telling the shooter that they forgive him. You’ve seen the rallies to support them. You’ve seen people outside the church doors, the city and the country standing in solidarity. Now I haven’t attended an institutionalized church in a little over 3 years because I am done with church hierarchy. I’m done with secrets. I’m done with pastors who make and break the rules. I’m done with abuse. I’m done with corrupt boards. I’m done with “we’re all human – but I’m the type of human that won’t change and you can just deal”. I’m done with stealing money. I’m done with church politics. I’m just. Frikken. Done. I’m not done with God, I just don’t believe that’s what church is about and right now that’s all I can associate it with. Still, if you’ve really been a part of a church, then like me, you know that’s not all it’s about. You know between all the bullshit there is something deeper and more important there. It looks like, if only for a moment, recognizing the worst parts of our week and having genuine faith that the best is yet to come. It looks like acceptance because “It’s a church of the Lord, you don’t turn nobody down”. It looks like worship. It looks like resilience. It looks like a second chance. It looks like forgiveness. It looks like hope. It looks like support. It looks like refuge. It looks like transcendence. It looks like love. It looks like God.
We’re all in life together and while tragedies like these can harden our hearts, we should probably take a page from the members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, and realize that we NEED to have each other’s backs. For all the slack organized religion gets, it has done a lot of good for a lot people. More good than bad I think. If you can see it with an open heart, in my opinion, religions are one of the most beautiful things we have. I’m using the Christian church because that’s all I know but I think it goes for any faith tradition, whatever your place of worship is. It’s easy to write off organizations/people, but like it or not, we are in this together y’all. Whatever you’re a part of, it’s a community and if done right, it should look like Charleston right now.
Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.