Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”

He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.”
Luke 22:39-48

Many sacred moments in my life happen at the local coffee shop. Yesterday one of my dear friends showed up while I sat editing some photographs and pondering deep thoughts about race. I left my computer, thinking we would chat for a second about one thing and we ended up talking at the table for over an hour.

He recently finished a book by the founder of the Iona Community, ant it made it’s way into the conversation we shared. I shared a deep heaviness and exhaustion, and he offered some thoughts from book he had read regarding Luke 22:39-48. He reminded me that according to the Gospel writer Luke, the disciples fell asleep in the garden while Christ prayed because they were exhausted by grief. Exciting and crucial times surrounded them, but the weight of grief was so heavy they fell asleep.

As the conversation continued we began to talk about John Mayer, race in the USA, race relations in the world, our own stories, sin, grace and the deep hope we both know. The conversation birthed moments of deep sadness as we repeatedly named the grip the fallacy of race has had on the social and political imagination of all the world.

Sleeping was so tempting.

I could see the sorrow and exhaustion in his eyes at moments. I wondered if my eyes revealed the same thing. I am not sure. I do know my heart has felt it many times during 28 years of life. I say 28, because I was 4 years old in Dillon, SC, when I realized I was black and in the USA this would have a profound impact upon numerous lines of my story.

Sleeping when it comes to racial reconciliation and the sorrow the sin of race has caused, has never really felt like an option for me as I think about it. When I even dare get close to closing my eyes, someone or something wakes me up. Sleep caused by the deep sorrow of race we have created for ourselves, is one privilege I have yet to know.

We pressed through it though. With honesty and minds seeking to understand, we yielded not to the temptation. We kept going.

Tonight I find myself back at the coffee shop, glancing over every now & then at the table we shared life together at for an hour or so yesterday. I have 12-minutes till closing, so I need to prepare to go and I sense this great pressure to come up with a nice conclusion sentence. It is not coming.

Honestly, I could have a whole day until closing time and the sentence still would be out there waiting. I will not force it to come.

Now that I am fully awake again and deeply stirred to share my particular story, ask some questions and seek redemption, I will continue to reflect and write. This is not the last entry, the story is still being written and I-we- have many more miles to go.

May we stay awake…

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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