Recently I had the opportunity to be with a family as a loved one was facing death. It is the toughest time for a family. It is certainly not the easiest time for me to be with a family.
Many times I don’t have words to say, or know what to do. Even being seminary trained, I still find there are no easy answers.
What I have learned is that simply being present to listen, to watch or to just be is the best gift I can offer in times of loss or struggle.
This got me thinking that maybe we need this idea of “being with” each other in a broader context of community. There are so many other kinds of losses: health, employment, housing, sobriety, freedom and self-respect. Traumatic loss can destroy families and undermine one’s sense of personhood.
People simply were not created to be alone. We need to know each other. We need to take the time to be there for one another: to see people as something other than a stranger and to recognize that anyone of us can find ourselves fragile and broken needing the support of another.
Maybe if we could see each other in this way, we would want better for each other. We might do our part to make things better. We could see people as having infinite value even if we don’t always vote like them or politically agree with them or even believe as they do. Maybe we would learn to fear people less and treasure people more so we might want the best for each other.
Maybe we would begin to see our communities as places where all might thrive; where there doesn’t always need to be winners and losers, but where we can acknowledge our common lives and create better dreams.
We are at our best when we are willing to walk with one another, stand for one another and do our best for one another. When we begin to place ourselves in the shoes of “the other,” we can better realize that we have so much more in common than we might otherwise see. We are so fragile. But when we are together, we become less vulnerable. We might even dare to hope.
I don’t know about you, but it feels like the time of the year where the call to walk with one another is now and can be heard more boldly. We have just experienced the city being called together in a citywide Good Friday service, where many faith communities came together as one to ask forgiveness, and to be a bit more merciful, looking to the cross of Christ with hope.
The upcoming Stacks Take Over will raise funds to help families in need of practical items and will impart a sense of compassion for all who participate. The March against Human Trafficking on May 19 will empower us all the more to break the chains of evil and to free our brothers and sisters who have been held too long in fear and despair.
We can’t be our best as people when we stand alone. We need each other to live. In the face of illness, in the face of poverty, in the face of death, in the face of homelessness, amid the challenge of diversity, when overrun by adversity or any of the heartbreaking and life-altering issues humans need, we must be willing to stand together. Any less is possible; it is just less than human.
We must be better, we can be better. Join with me. Stand.