My four-year-old granddaughter has the solution for the pandemic as well as the racial tension that now has so much of the country in its grip. “When the world gets better, we’ll have a pool party, and everyone’s invited.” That’s word-for-word what she said. It’s a brilliant suggestion.
Boy, do we ever need a pool party. Can’t you see us all jumping in the pool together — black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Democrat, Republican? Masks on, masks off? Can’t you see everyone splashing and laughing and having a good time? Black people are splashing police officers; police are laughing and splashing right back. The only guns are squirt guns and water launchers. There are a couple of cops throwing a dry hapless protester into the water. Kids are pulling senior citizens in; everyone’s getting wet. Restaurant owners are cooking up a storm; there’s free food and drink for everyone! What a party!
No masks are required because the pandemic is over. Oops, there goes the governor! Oh my, and now they have Trump! Somebody put a mask on him and now they are throwing him in with his suit and red tie on.
I know it’s far-fetched to even think like this, but once you start, it’s kind of fun. And then you begin to realize that, given the right circumstances, this might actually be possible. Remove all the division and the disease, and the racism, and the politics, and suddenly, we’re all just human beings. We all laugh and cry; we all want to have fun; we all want to live; we all bleed red blood.
To Jocelyn, this is all doable.
If we all knew it was a four-year-old who invited us, we might even show up, and we might just drop our guards and lay aside our differences. After all, what do any of our issues mean to a four-year-old? Maybe this is why Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the children. To the children, we’re all pretty much the same.
What would it take to get us all thinking like this? A pool party put on by a four-year-old? Bring on Jocelyn!
Elizabeth Shirk reports from Chicago
On May 31, 2020, John and Marti sent out an email asking for prayer for John Shirk (my father) and our family. Chicago had been filled with people protesting, rioting, and looting stores in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis at the hands of white police. At the time of the email, people were looting stores a few blocks away, cars rushed through our alley, and we wondered what would happen during the night. We would like to thank everyone who prayed for our city and our neighbors.
As I write this, it is still May 31. I want to record some of the events that happened today. This morning, the neighborhood was quiet, and we finished painting our front fence. We spoke with neighbors who were also working outside. I joined our local church Zoom meeting, in which we prayed specifically for first responders who would be addressing protests, riots, looters, and fires.
Later, we tuned in as protests began, this time in neighborhoods around the Loop and stretching into our suburbs. Traffic increased, we heard helicopter blades and sirens. I started messaging friends who are protesting, checking to make sure they were safe. We made cookies for our neighbors, who are like family to us. My father spoke with family and friends on the phone, and we tried to stay up to date about the changes to protests and riots that were taking place around the city. I read emails from the school where I work about how we will address these issues with students and parents in a time of eLearning.
At the end of the day, there’s still a lot I don’t know. But here’s what I do know.
My neighbors, who are POC, are family.
My church members, including many first responders, are family.
My friends, who are peacefully protesting, are family.
My heart hurts. Our families, friends, and neighbors are hurting. Our world is broken, filled with injustice and death and so far from God.
Of course, not everyone feels like family. What are we to do about Law Enforcement Officers who abuse their positions of authority, such as the one who took George Floyd’s life? What about the rioters, looters, and arsonists who are hijacking peaceful protests? What about the man who shot and killed someone a few blocks from my home yesterday?
They may not feel like family. They may have even declared war on us and our communities. That makes them our enemies. Yet Jesus commands us to even love our enemies.
This does not mean we cannot stand for justice and hold them accountable. Love is not the enemy of justice.
So before you judge, before you cast the first stone, whether at protestors, rioters, or first responders, please pray. Pray for the peaceful protesters. Pray for the first responders. Pray for the neighbors, families, and friends. Pray for those looting and rioting. Pray that you and I can act and speak in love, as the salt and light of Christ.
Now more than ever we must pray for wisdom as we seek to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8)
Elizabeth Shirk firstname.lastname@example.org