“The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you do get into your room you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise.” C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity
The ground is shifting beneath my feet this Advent season. For the first time since we lost Emmett Ever almost four years ago, my spirituality is burgeoning again into something like faith. It’s a private and malleable journey, but one that is having deep consequences on my head and heart. At times I approach a renewal and a vulnerability that is welcoming, necessary, and brings greater connection in my parenting and my marriage. At other times, I am really having to exorcise old hurts and assumptions to make way for any fruitful ground. I’m not sure how much of this journey I’ll share publicly (it feels very internal to me), but I’m grateful to be on it.
On a related note, we took the boys to their first social justice demonstration last Friday night. It was a march, rally, and die-in with hundreds of participants to stand (and fall) in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters who are losing their lives and freedoms at alarming rates due to the unrelenting and systemic racism still at work throughout our country. Bram chose not to lay down during the die-in portion, and so he and R stood off to the side of the street to watch. I was wearing Louis and we lay down in the street together. Lou seemed to take it all in, looking around at those around him with great curiosity and interest. Bram, for his part, was very (positively, I think) moved by the experience, though we worked hard to explain it in terms that would bring him some comfort.
While Lou and I were laying down, though, a heckling bystander called out to me, “what kind of a mother would do that?” I didn’t hear it at the time, but she was standing right next to R and Bram. R made the (smart) decision not to engage, since she wasn’t sure how it would be received and didn’t want to argue in front of Bram. Still, we both wanted to ask, “what kind of a mother wouldn’t participate?” Black lives are being put out over and over and over again through our history. Here, in our well educated and progressive city, black infants are dying at 4.5 times the rate of white babies: 17.9 out of every 1000 black babies versus 3.9 out of every 1000 white babies. That’s nearly twice the national average for black babies, which is still staggeringly high.The Healthy People 2020 Goal nationally is 6 our of every 1000 babies, which would still leave the US second to last for industrialized countries in overall infant mortality. And though the vast majority do survive infancy, African-Americans are still at risk of being locked up or killed at rates that are astronomically higher than their white peers. What kinds of odds are those to stack against our most vulnerable youth?
I want this movement to gain momentum. I want for my friends’ children to not live in a world which necessitates carrying a handmade sign through the streets that says, “my life matters.” Bram and Louis are privileged to live in bodies (white bodies; male bodies) that make their existence not a daily threat to their safety. Generally speaking, they can choose safety or risk. Shouldn’t we all be so fortunate?