I listen for a living.
I sit very still and try to discern the bewilderment or pain beneath the stories, the sadness or horror tucked behind words uttered. I hold up a mirror, so to speak, and offer a safe haven so another can look deep into her own soul and unearth and examine what is swirling in the hidden places, what keeps her wounded or stuck or overwhelmed with emotions that are causing harm.
We go there so that the healing streams can flow, cleanse, revive, rebuild.
The most meaningful conversations are a fluid dance between those who speak freely and those who listen well.
Not everybody gets to talk at once. The resulting cacophony is non-productive. Disrespectful. And hurtful to those who need someone's full undivided attention.
The hard truth is that the older I get, the less I know and the fewer answers I offer with confidence.
Fast forward to today. I'm choosing to be still and quiet because I yearn to learn. Instead of yammering away, I offer the gift of listening intently with heart wide open as others speak of the evils of racism. Click on the title of each offering below to absorb every single word.
It's that important. For there is a strong wisdom flowing from these pens. And hope. Yes, I discern hope ...
For Those Who Are New to the Conversation ~ Deidra Riggs
'People are talking. And they are angry. Their anger is justified. Maybe you're angry, too? It wouldn't surprise me, that's for sure.
Maybe the shooting in Charleston was the event that finally made you say, "Hey. I think I'd better add my voice to this conversation because I'm finding I actually have some thoughts and words and I am sick and tired of this foolishness!" Maybe your conviction has outwitted your fear of being called a racist, or saying the wrong thing, or finding yourself in the middle of a confrontation. Good ...'
My Children Aren't Colorblind and Either Are Yours ~ Lauren Casper
'The other night I peeked in my daughter's room to see how the bedtime routine was going with Daddy and to give her one more kiss. I found them both laying in her bed, nose to nose, chatting and laughing. I approached, wanting to be a part of the special moment. Arsema popped her head up from the pillow with a big smile and said, "Mommy your arm is white, too! My arm is brown and Mareto's arm is brown and Daddy's arm is white!!" We laughed with her because for some reason she thought this was a hilarious thing ...'
When We Need to Lament ~ Alia Joy
'The sheet breaks loose from the gurney and the plastic mattress lurches up like a belch when I curl myself fetal. I struggle to position myself away from my body. To push my synapses away from muscle and bone and receptors and find solace in the quiet hush of a body without pain. But the agony lives in me ...'
How does one escape what hurts from the inside out ...'
When I Am Embarrassed to Be White ~ Lisa Burgess
'It was Saturday morning, only days after the Charleston shootings. As part of the Huntsville Dream Center, believers from different churches were spreading out in the community to celebrate fathers in the housing project, to mow grass for elderly widows, to hand out quarters in laundromats.
And to visit the lonely in nursing homes. That's where I found myself. I walked into ...'
Give Me Grace: Stand Up ~ Lisha Epperson
'I've sat in the space of no words this week. I've felt hopeless and frustrated. Shut up in a room of questions and so little light, so little love. I haven't felt compelled to make nice with pretty words and the collective cheek we keep turning is raw and bruised. It hurts.
What do you say to repeated attacks on the humanity of a people? Racism is a sin like any other, it's the product of evil in the world and we haven't wiped it out. This fresh wave of ugly is subtle and layered and ...'
Repenting of 'Colorblindness' ~ Rachel Held Evans
'In her groundbreaking book, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," Michelle Alexander notes that "racial caste systems do not require racial hostility or overt bigotry to thrive. They need only racial indifference ..." Or, as Martin Luther King put it, they need only "sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
I ran headlong into my own "sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity" just two weeks ago when I gave a lecture for a writers conference ...'
'He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?'
~ Micah 6:8 ~
May our conversation as we gather around this table be an uplifting, encouraging, experience.
I reserve the right to not publish comments that do not strive to bless others.