Right now I’m sitting in a quiet room in my home. My dog snores beside me. A cup of warm tea and a laptop, my phone, a prayer book, a novel, gifts from my nieces and nephews surround me. On my run this morning, as the sun rose, I exchanged greetings with friendly neighbors. I’ll have fresh food for lunch today and walk my dog along safe, sunny sidewalks this afternoon.
Right now there are girls in Afghanistan who were not even alive yet on 9/11, and they are unsure of their ability to go to school anymore. There are men clinging to US Air Force planes taking off from the Kabul airport. There are US veterans who spent years of their lives watching this unfold, with heartstrings and memories and investments laid bare. There are families afraid to open the door to their homes, lest they be recognized as friendly to Americans and killed. There are Afghan-Americans who cannot get a hold of their relatives in Afghanistan because of downed cell phone towers. There is fear, fear, heartbreak, fear, unknowns enveloping the situation.
Right now there are people who were without power in Haiti before an earthquake hit. Now they have no power and are short on water supply. There is a terrible storm on the way. There is rubble to sift through, and reminders of how this has gone before.
Right now there are friends and neighbors and relatives on ventilators or waiting for hours to get infusions to help them breathe properly. Children are filling up Texas Children’s in Houston.
Right now healthcare workers are not just exhausted and burned out from the work, but also from the trauma and emotion of caring for the pandemic’s second round, which brings not only feelings of compassion fatigue but also for many frustration, anger, resentment, along with grief.
Right now there are people fleeing lack of safety in their countries and choosing wildly unsafe routes or death instead of staying in all that is most familiar to them. That is how dangerous their homes have become. They’d rather leave them forever, leave all material possessions behind. All they can do is hope for basic needs getting met, basic safety being felt for them and/or their children again one day. They choose converting from people with a home to people with nowhere to belong to. And many of them are sleeping at or near US borders.
Do I soak in gratitude that I represent the result of veterans’ work, of generations of my family’s work, as I sit here with multiple degrees and a reasonable expectation of safety today and for the foreseeable future? Yes. Yes, yes, yes.
Do I recognize that the circumstances and location of my birth in this world plays a role in my safety and security that just is, in the same that it just isn’t for others born in other circumstances, in other locations? Yes.
And so do I choose to ignore that millions of my sisters and brothers are, in this very moment, experiencing desperation, fear, danger, illness, oppression, hunger, as I type a post onto a social media platform with bare feet?
It feels like Jesus himself is tugging at my heart.
Praying for Your Peace which surpasses understanding for the little girl in Afghanistan tonight. For your cousin on the ventilator. For nourishment of body and soul to be with the Haitian, to be with those leaving Honduras. For the dad to exhale who has a little boy at Texas Children’s. For the veteran to have support and connection and bolstering for her or his spirits. For the families separated by downed cell phone towers, Covid visitation policies, smugglers, or policy. For the moms of the soldiers headed to Kabul right now.
With an overwhelming amount of suffering, loving God, may those of us celebrating health and peace know that we enjoy it because other nameless neighbors have helped us have it. And may You move us with great focus and clarity -don’t let us get paralyzed! – to be Your hands and feet for our neighbors near and far, to act on their behalf as Your Word instructs us. Help us do, dear Lord. Help us start somewhere and trust Your Guidance in so doing.
Rev. Carrie Graham is the founder and pastor of The Church Lab. While at Fuller Theological Seminary, she had a worshipful and transformative experience with dialogue. She came to see dialogue facilitation as a vital pastoral skill and began facilitating interfaith dialogues in 2007. By the time she became a pastor in 2009, she understood spiritual growth as having 4 pillars: dialogue, discipleship, outreach/mission and worship. They each exercise distinct spiritual muscles. Together they interweave to create a tightly knit relationship with God.
Since about 2013, her work beyond the lab has often involved teaching or consulting with folks around spiritually healthy behavior with money.
Carrie is grateful to get to be pastoral to pastors; she facilitates 2 cohorts of 20 pastors across Central Texas. They represent numerous Protestant denominations.
Experimental ministry work, paired with walking with pastors, has created a passion in Carrie for equipping fellow leaders to engage experimental ministry within their calls. She believes that by walking together through experiments in ministry, we can faithfully help the Church find her future.
When it is play time, Carrie loves singing, dancing, going on travel adventures and hiking with her dog Addy, who is of course named after the best liturgical season of Advent.