It was that annual day filled with frightening sounds and sights; it began before noon and crept late into the darkness of the night. You know that day; no I am not talking about Halloween, rather, Independence Day, the 4th of July!
Well, okay, for most of us it isn’t necessarily a frightening day filled with fear and dread. But for Simeon I believe it is his the least favorite day of the year. All day long he tags along close behind us wherever we might wander in the house. When we sit he crowds in close to our chair and often refuses to go outside when he really needs to go outside. Thursday night I finally took him to the basement and slept downstairs with him as it was quieter and he didn’t feel the need to pace and fidget and whine at the loud fireworks outside our windows.
For Simeon the fear of the explosions, bright lights in the sky and whistles of screaming rockets fill his life and dominate him with fear. And although we understand it is part of a celebration of our nation’s birth, albeit a very loud one it seemed this year, Simeon does not understand it is about joy and celebration and fun, he just thinks it is loud and scary.
Humankind’s response to things we do not understand if often the same. We fear that which we do not understand and that fear can consume us. I think about all the reaction to social justice and civil rights issues of our day; same gender rights, women’s healthcare choices, immigration, other religions, no religion, views and theologies of God in our own Christian tradition, it can be a long list. I think about how these things are responded to in the world and so often they are approached with anger and hate, bigotry and vitriol language and I believe these kinds of responses are grounded in a lack of understanding, appreciation, education, and empathy.
I believe if those on both sides of an issue would earnestly sit down together and engage in open, respectful, and engaged conversation we would find ourselves in a much more welcoming, understanding, and inclusive world. I am reminded of Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
I am pretty confident if Simeon spoke English or if I spoke Labrador/Shar Pei we could better understand one another. I could better understand why he is afraid and he could better understand that the loud explosions outside are not going to harm him or his home. But until that time it will suffice to simply try and comfort him in his fear.
May we find ways to encounter one another and understand diversity and embrace the joy that comes with a broad array of what makes us human and that common piece of who we are as unique and unrepeatable children of the Divine. One day, justice for all will be, grounded in welcome, appreciation, inclusion, understanding, and love. May it be soon.
It is one of the many ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church.