By Terry Brown of Pigeon, MI, USA
The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. —Isaiah 58:11–12 NRSV
Years ago, as part of my college social work program, I lived in an old hotel turned into low-income housing in a crime-infested part of a major Midwestern city. Throughout my life I have been a part of the dominant racial majority, except while I was living there.
Two of my female classmates also lived in the building. One was in the room directly above me and one directly below. We worked out a plan to call for help, if needed, in the hopes one of us would hear the cries of distress through the window (or floor or ceiling) and come to the other’s aid.
One day a man forcibly entered the room of the female student above my room. With his hands around her neck, threatening her, she loudly choked out my name. It was enough for him to leave in a hurry.
Ronald, a poor, thin black man, himself embroiled in legal and family struggles, heard the commotion as my friends huddled with me in my room. Ronald came to our aid and organized a watch group that protected us from that day forward. Ronald and I became friends sharing what we had with each other to our mutual benefit.
God hears the cries of all creation and is ready to send aid whether we recognize God’s reign or not. Do we see the Divine in others who may be different from us? Sometimes help comes from what we may think are the most unlikely places and from the most unlikely people.
Prayer for Peace
Creator God, open our eyes to see with new clarity strangers and neighbors, all wonderfully made in your image. May we collaborate with them for peace.
Spiritual Practice: Welcoming Unity in Diversity
Meditate on Unity in Diversity. Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle. Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or “challenging” to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep us from loving one another.
Today I will reach out in love to a neighbor I may have been avoiding.