The Stuff of Life

Things have been busy around these parts, what with a wedding approaching in two weeks, Spring Break this week, sick kiddos last week, and finally buying a new (to us) rig more suitable to this region.

The stuff of life.

Car shopping is such a chore. We knew we’d found the right vehicle though when we discovered the VIN number began “ZAC”. Imagine finding God’s Poetry in a VIN number. The Bean spent the night with us last night after being waylaid by illness – his and his mama’s – for several weeks. When he left today, he told his mama that he didn’t want to leave Mimi’s and Pa’s. When she asked why, he said, “Because I love Mimi’s new car.”

The stuff of life.

I gave a rambling Lenten message at church earlier this week. Most people there had no idea who I was. I’m used to speaking before groups of people who don’t know me. I’m just not used to speaking to people who don’t know me in the very town in which I live.

I spoke about the Resurrection. But probably not in the way you might think of a Resurrection. Not the rising up out of the grave thingy. As I told the folks at church, seeing souls rise up from the grave does not give me peace. It gives me the heebie-jeebies. Not that I’ve ever seen that, mind you, but if I had seen such a thing I would no longer be writing a blog or anything else. I’d probably be in a straight-jacket somewhere. There are some who think I belong there already.

The stuff of life.

The Resurrection I spoke about was the one referenced by Rev. Peter Marshall in his Easter Prayer: May we never again live as if Thou were dead! 

There are a lot of religious folks going around living as if Jesus was dead. Oh, they talk a pretty talk about God and Jesus. They post Facebook updates about Jesus, but mostly it’s vindictive and vitriolic. I saw such a post earlier tonight from a celebrity pastor who has an international ministry. He was mocking a black man, something that seems to be a perfectly acceptable behavior among these religious folks who live like they think Jesus was Scandinavian. Do they have any idea that Jesus was a Middle-Easterner? This celebrity pastor was mocking this black man and suggesting that he didn’t realize how great America has always been.

I’m over America myself. I live on a street where every other house flies a US flag. I would venture that only 10 percent of them, if that, served in the military, or had a family member who served.  I know it hurts the feelings of some of my veteran friends that I no longer stand for the pledge or the National Anthem. Me. A Gold Star daughter. It shocks them.

Well, I don’t know how else to state peaceably how betrayed I feel about the way these Vietnam veterans have taken to a man who betrayed this country when they were fighting in a war, a man who betrayed this country when my father was dying in that same war. They have pledged allegiance to a man who betrays this country on a daily, if not hourly basis.  These vets, who I love wholeheartedly, have embraced a draft-dodger. A man who entertains himself through practicing acts of cruelty. All that just dredges up for me how this country betrayed our family in those early years after my father’s death.

I sat in my car outside Walgreen’s shortly after speaking at church about the Resurrection, weeping to my daughter: I don’t know where I belong anymore. The friendships that have anchored me for years have been tossed aside as these friends grow in their devotion to a cult figure.

Perhaps I got it wrong, I said to Tim recently. Maybe he isn’t as awful as I think he is.

No, Tim said, most assuredly, you don’t have it wrong. He is.

The stuff of life.

I am not the only one. All across the world people are shaking their heads, wondering what in the Holy Name of God is happening to America. To its people. Have they lost their ever loving minds, worshiping this terror of a human being?

Yes, it seems we have.

“I feel like everything I ever believed in is total bullshit,” a friend on Facetime said to me. “Where is God? Why isn’t he doing something?”

Waiting on us, asking the same questions of us, I suppose.

When I am not despairing to the point of considering joining the white lily club, I am mostly optimistic. My faith remains intact. When I can’t believe in anything but, I believe in the goodness of God, still.

How can it be that I can hold fast to the idea that God is good in the face of thousands of brown-skinned babies ripped from the arms of their mamas, their papas? How can it be that I can hold fast to the belief in the goodness of God in light of the fact that to be born poor and black in this country automatically puts a person at risk for police brutality and even death?  How can I believe in the goodness of God when so many of his proclaimed mouthpieces spew such vile, racist, misogynistic, hateful mocking taunts and memes day in and day out?

Lord. God. Have. Mercy.

Never in my lifetime have so many Christians worked so hard to turn so many people away from God, from the hope of Jesus Christ. From their venom-filled prayers to their Taliban-inspired Sharia Laws, they loathe women and people of color and anyone who stands in the way of their greed and exploitation.

I bought a flag for our house. It is not an American flag. It’s a hippie flag, with the words “Hope, Peace, Love” written out in flowers on it. When I grow up I want to be the drug-free Janis Joplin. The girl who could sing truth, loud and clear with raw-edged daring.

Here’s how I still believe in the goodness of God: There is within me a deep hurt and concern for those brown-skinned babies who will never ever see their mamas and papas again. Children who were taken into custody and jailed here in America. Children who were sent into a courtrooms full of white people who didn’t speak their language. Children who were then shipped out to homes of white people. some of them good, some of them not good at all, where they fall asleep each night crying for the parents they most likely will never see again.

I care about those children. I weep for those children. I want justice for those children. I want to deliver each one of those children into the arms of the parents who were denied them. I don’t even know their names but I care.

Me. A white woman. Blonde. Blue-eyed. Freckled. I care.

I have no reason to care. Not a single solid reason.

Except for the love of God that exists within me. God makes me care because God cares. These people who claim to be representatives of God, who claim that America is the greatest country on earth as long as a white majority remains in control, they are the ones full of bullshit.

Not God.

God is still good despite the evilness of mankind.

This is the one truth I hold fast to when dealing with the stuff of life.

 

Karen Spears Zacharias has traveled to several countries, where she has met lovely people living in some pretty wonderful places. These people have taught her that it is not a country that makes people great, it’s the people who make a country great … Or not.

 

 

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

1 Comment

AF Roger

about 2 months ago

Here's something decades old from an African American poet: Trifle / Georgia Douglas Johnson Against the day of sorrow Lay by some trifling thing A smile, a kiss, a flower For sweet remembering. Then when the day is darkest Without one rift of blue Take out your little trifle And dream your dream anew.

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