Grant Us Courage
I saw my youngest son be brave today. It is the first day of school. His older brother has been looking forward to getting back to the routine, especially after discovering one of his best friends would be in his class. Liam has not been as eager to make the return. Holding his hand as we walked into the building, I worried about him. We dropped Jim off in his classroom and then weaved past new backpack-toting students and their doting parents.
We arrived in his first grade class. His teacher taught EA when she went to school here; which thrills us and helps him a little. Slowly we work our way over to a desk with his name on it. A girl from his class last year smiles and waves at him. He puts his backpack in the cubby and then sat down. EA and I stooped down to tell him goodbye. He hugged us both, used his arms to wipe tears out of his eyes, and told us goodbye.
He didn’t beg us to stay. He didn’t run after us like he did last year. He was nervous. He was sad. But without any prompting from his mom or I, he decided he was going to stay and try. I can only imagine how difficult that was for him. I know it was colossally tough. He has told us for weeks that he didn’t want to go back. He went back today and he stayed. That 6 year old is my hero.
Lo! the hosts of evil round us
scorn the Christ, assail his ways!
From the fears that long have bound us
free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the living of these days,
for the living of these days.
We sang that hymn in church on Sunday morning. And I needed to hear those words and to sing them. My heart felt like a brick because of El Paso and Dayton. Mass shootings, hatred of immigrants and refugees, the insidious web of money, self interest, and willing lack of self-awareness that props up this system that protects guns more than people are all hosts of evil. They swirl around us, they scorn Christ, they assail his ways, and they kill people everyday.
Standing there on Sunday morning, I felt the overwhelming futility of it: the guns, the hatred, the white supremacy. We know the dance all too well by now and I just felt helpless. Every time this happens, there is that thought, “We could just run away.” But that is just fear binding us. And it is not very Christ-like to abandon something; even if the labor you do seems fruitless. Grant us wisdom. Grant us courage. Sometimes you want to run, but you’ve got to wipe the tears from your eyes and have the bravery to stay and keep pressing forward. You’ve got to keep working and praying and calling legislators and loving your neighbor.
I saw my youngest son be brave today. I owe it to him to be brave also. God, grant us wisdom. Grant us courage.